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Page 68. 


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Ai.EXANDF, R Gardner 

Publisher to Her Majesty the Queen 
Paisley and London 



Modern Egyptians 



£^^vav^ MUliam Xane 


Translator of ' 

"The Thousand and One Nights" 

WITH SIXTY-FIVP: illustrations and TWENTY-SEVEN 

A 1. E X A N D E R G A R D N E R 

Publisher to Her Majesty the Queen 





DWAED "WILLIAM LANE, the author of this book, was born 
at Hereford on September 17, 180L He was the third son of 
the Eev. Theophilus Lane, LL.D., a prebendary of Hereford Cathedral, 
He was educated privately, chiefly by his parents. His mother (a niece 
of Gainsborough the painter) was a woman of intellect and high prin- 
ciple, and to her he was greatly indebted for the development of his 
mental and moral qualities. As his attainments both in classics and in 
mathematics were unusually high, it was resolved that he should go to 
Cambridge, with a view to entering the Church ; but after a short resi- 
dence there, he abandoned the idea, and joined an elder brother in 
London, who carried on business as a lithographer and engraver. At 
the same time, he devoted his leisure to the study of Arabic, in which 
he soon acquii-ed great proficiency. The double strain of work and 
study undermined his strength, and an attack of fever, which nearly 
proved fatal, left his health so shattered that a residence abroad was 
necessary ; and he very naturally turned to the East, where he might 
at once recover his health and prosecute his favourite study. 

Thus it was that Lane came to take up his residence in Egypt, in 
the end of 1825, when he was a young man of four-and-twenty. He 
resolved to study, not the language only, but also the people. He 
therefore adopted the native costume, and so complete was the disguise 
that in public he was generally taken for a Turk. He engaged two 
professors to instruct him in the Ai'abic tongue and in the Moslem 
religion and law. He lived among the people as one of them, assum- 
ing an Arabic name and adopting their manners and customs, and even 
their opinions, so far as conscience would allow. He abstained from 
eating food forbidden by their religion, and from drinking wine, and 
even from habits which they thought merely disagreeable, such as the 

NOV 141962 


use of knives aud forks at meals. He mingled with them iu their 
houses and bazaars. He went into their mosques — even the most sacred 
of them, duriug the most sacred seasons— when they were crowded with 
Turks, and he assumed in their midst the regular postures of devotion. 
To his iutimate friends amoug them he acknowledged the hand of 
Providence in the introduction and diffusion of the religion of El-Islara; 
and, when interrogated, he avowed his belief in the Messiah as the 
Word of God, in accordance with the v:ords of the Kur-dn. 

The result was that lie gained the entire confidence of the Arabs. 
They even forgot that he was not an Arab. They were familiar and un- 
reserved toward him on every subject. They were at no pains to conceal 
from him their feelings, their thoughts, or the reason of their actions. 
He was thus enabled to penetrate into the inner life of the people, to 
forget for the time that he was an Englishman, and to think their 
thoughts in their language. 

Lane's example has been followed by more recent travellers — for 
example, by Francis Parkman, the American, who lived for some time 
among the North American Indians, and by Arminius Vambery, the 
Hungarian, who travelled for two years in the disguise of a dervish 
among the Tartars of Central Asia. Lane, however, has the merit of 
having been the first to make so daring an experiment, and of having 
continued it for a much longer time than his successors. 

Lane's Egyptian life was merely the preparation for the great work 
he had set before himself — namely, to make the Egyptians known to the 
world as they never had been before. He spent ujj wards of three years iu 
the country, — at Alexandria, at Cairo, at the Pyramids, and up the Nile ; 
and when he returned to England toward the end of 1828, he had with 
hiiu his "Description of Egyjjt" in a complete form, and illustrated 
with drawings made by himself. Though the value of the work was 
recognized, he failed to find a publisher who would incur the expense 
and the risk of bringing out the book. At length, by Lord Brougham's 
advice, its publication was undertaken by the Society for the Diffusion 
of L'seful Knowledge. Lane, however, thought tliat he could improve 
the book by another visit to Egypt. He returned there in 1833, 
and remained for two years, during which he obtained much ad- 
ditional information and new insight. " The Manners and Customs 
OF THE Modern Egyptians" was issued in 1836, in two volumes of 
the Library of Entertaining Knowledge, illustrated with admirable 
woodcuts di-awn by the author. Its success was immediate. Its 
accuracy, its fairness, and its completeness were universally recognized. 
It was characterized as "the most remarkable description of a people 


ever written ; " cand it remaius to this day the standard authority on 
its subject. 

Two years later, Lane published a new translation of " The Arabian 
Nights," which was the hrst accurate rendering of the tales, and is still 
the standard edition. The numerous Notes he appended to it were 
afterwards jiublished as a separate work, with the title, "Arabian 
Society in the Middle Ages." In 1843, he issued a volume of "Selec- 
tions from the Kur-an." Before this work appeared, he had returned 
to Eo-ypt again (1842), for the purpose of preparing what turned out to 
be the o-reat work of his life — his "Arabic Lexicon." He spent seven 
years in the country collecting material. The expense of the under- 
taking was generously borne by the fourth Duke of Northumberland, 
and after his death by his widow. Lane worked incessantly at the 
Lexicon for nearly twenty years before he allowed a line of it to go to 
press. When at last five quarto volumes of it appeared, beginning in 
1863, it was at once accepted by the scholars of Europe as a work of 
the highest authority. He did not live, however, to see it finished. 
He died at Wortliing, Sussex, August 10, 1876, when he had about 
completed his seventy-fifth year. The remaining portion of the Lexicon 
was published (1876-90) under the superintendence of his grand- 
nephew, S. Lane-Poole, who also wrote his Life. Though no British 
university recognized Lane's merits, he was made a Doctor of Literature 
at the Tercentenary of the University of Leyden ; and the Institute of 
France elected him a Corresponding Member. In his later years he 
received a Civil List pension from the British Government. 



-** — 

TIANS, ... 



VI. DOMESTIC LIFE — {Continued), ... 
VII. DOMESTIC LIVE— (Continued), ... 


XI. SUPERSTITIONS — (Continued), .. 



























IT is generally observed that many of the most i-emarkable 
peculiarities in the manners, customs, and character of a 
nation are attributable to the physical peculiarities of the country. 
Such causes in an especial manner aftect the moral and social state 
of the modern Egyptians, and therefore here require some pre- 
liminary notice ; but it will not as yet be necessary to explain 
their particular influences : these will be evinced in many sub- 
sequent parts of the present work. 

The Nile, in its course through the narrow and winding valley 
of Upper Egypt, which is confined on each side by mountainous 
and sandy deserts, as w^ell as through the plain of Lower Egypt, is 
everywhere bordered, excepting in a very few places, by cultivated 
fields of its own formation. These cultivated tracts are not per- 
fectly level, being somewhat lower towards the deserts than in 
the neighbourhood of the river. They are interspersed with palm 
groves and villages, and intersected by numerous canals. The 
copious summer rains which prevail in Abyssinia and the neigh- 
bouring countries begin to show their effects in Egypt, by the 


rising of the Nile, about the period of the summer solstice. By 
the autumnal equinox the river attains its greatest height, which 
is always sufficient to fill the canals by which the fields are irri- 
gated, and generally to inundate large portions of the cultivable 
land It then gradually falls until the period when it again begins 
to rise. Being impregnated, particularly during its rise, with 
rich soil washed down from the mountainous countries whence it 
flows, a copious deposit is annually spi'ead, either by the natural 
inundation or by artificial irrigation, over the fields which border 
it ; while its bed, from the same cause, rises in an equal degree. 
The Egyptians depend entirely upon their river for the fertilization 
of the soil, rain being a very i-ai'e phenomenon in their country, 
excepting in the neighbourhood of the Mediterranean ; and as the 
seasons are perfectly regular, the peasant may make liis arrange- 
ments with the utmost precision respecting the labour he will have 
to perform. Sometimes his labour is light, but when it consists 
in raising water for irrigation it is excessively severe. 

The climate of Egypt during the greater part of the year is 
remarkably salubrious. The exhalations from the soil after the 
period of the inundation render the latter part of the autumn less 
healthy than the summer and winter, and cause ophthalmia and 
dysentery and some other diseases to be more prevalent then than 
at other seasons ; and during a period of somewhat more or less 
than fifty days (called " el-kham;iseen "), commencing in April and 
lasting throughout May, hot southerly winds occasionally prevail 
for about three days together. These winds, though they seldom 
cause the thermometer of Fahrenheit to above 95° in Lower 
Egypt, or, in Upper Egypt, 105°, are dreadfully oppressive, even 
to the natives. When the plague visits Egypt it is generally in 
the spring, and this disease is most severe in the period of the 
khaniciseen. Egypt is also subject, particularly during the spring 
and summer, to the hot wind called the " samoom," which is still 
more oppressive than the khamiseen winds, but of much shorter 
duration, seldom lasting longer than a quarter of an hour or 
twenty minutes. It generally proceeds from the or 
south-south-east, and carries with it clouds of dust and sand. The 
general height of the thermometer in the depth of winter in 
Lower Egypt, in the afternoon and in the shade, is from 50° to 60°. 


,1. ttUuiltl - -*! / 


In the hottest season it is from 90' to 100°, and about ten degrees 
higher in the southern parts of Upper Egypt. But though the 
summer heat is so great it is seldom very oppressive, being generally 
accompanied by a refreshing northerly breeze, and the air being 
extremely dry. There is, however, one great source of discomfort 
arising from this dryness — namely, an excessive quantity of dust ; 
and there are other plagues which very much detract from the 
comfort which the natives of Egypt and visitors to their country 
otherwise derive from its genial climate. In spring, summer, and 
autumn flies are so abundant as to be extremely annoying during 
the daytime, and musquitoes are troublesome at night (unless a 
curtain be made use of to keep them away), and sometimes even 
in the day ; and every house that contains much wood- work (as 
most of the better houses do) swarms with bugs during the warm 
weather. Lice are not always to be avoided in any season, but 
they are easily got rid of ; and in the cooler weather fleas are 
excessively numerous. 

The climate of Upper Egypt is more healthy, tliougli hotter, 
than that of Lower Egypt. The plague seldom ascends far above 
Cairo, the metropolis, and is most common in the marshy parts 
of the country near the Mediterranean. During the last ten 
years, the country having been better drained, and quarantine 
regulations adopted to prevent or guard against the introduction 
of this disease from other countries, very few plague cases have 
occurred, excepting in the pai'ts above mentioned, and in those 
parts the pestilence has not been severe.^ Ophthalmia is also 
more common in Lower Egypt than in the .southern parts. It 
generally arises from checked perspiration, but is aggravated by 
the dust and many other causes. When remedies are promptly 
employed, this disease is seldom alarming in its progress; but 
vast numbers of the natives of Egypt, not knowing how to treat 
it, or obstinately resigning themselves to fate, are deprived of the 
sight of one or both of their eyes. 

When questioned respecting the salubrity of Egypt, I have 
often been asked whether many aged persons are seen among the 
inhabitants. Few, certainly, attain a great age in this country ; 
but how few do in our own land without more than once suffering 
from an illness that would prove fatal without medical aid, which 


is obtained by a very small number in Egypt ! The heat of the 
summer months is sufficiently oppressive to occasion considerable 
lassitude, while, at the same time, it excites the Egyptian to in- 
temperance in sensual enjoyments ; and the exuberant fertility of 
the soil engenders indolence, little nourishment sufficing for the 
natives, and the sufficiency being procurable without much exertion. 

The modern Egyptian metropolis, to the inhabitants of Avhich 
most of the contents of the following pages relate, is now called 
" Masr," more properly " Misr," but was formerly named " El- 
Kdhii'eh," whence Europeans have formed the name of Cairo. It 
is situated at the entrance of the valley of Upper Egypt, midway 
between the Nile and the eastei'n mountain range of ]\tukattam. 
Between it and the river there intervenes a tract of land, for the 
most part cultivated, which in the northern parts (where the port 
of Boolcik is situated) is more than a mile in width, and at the 
southern part less than half a mile wide. The metropolis occu- 
pies a space equal to about three square miles, and its population 
is about two hundred and forty thousand. It is surrounded by a 
wall, the gates of which are shut at night, and is commanded by 
a large citadel, situated at an angle of the town, near a point of 
the mountain. The streets are unpaved, and most of them are 
narrow and irregular : they might more properly be called lanes. 

By a stranger who merely passed through the streets Cairo- 
would be regarded as a very close and crowded city, but that this 
is not the case is evident to a person who overlooks the town from 
the top of a lofty house or from the menaret of a mosque. The 
great thoroughfare-streets have generally a row of shops along each 
side. Above the shops are apartments which do not communicate 
with them, and which are seldom occupied by the persons who rent 
the shops. To the right and left of the great thoroughfares are 
by-streets and quarters. Most of the by-streets are thoroughfares, 
and have a large wooden gate at each end, closed at night, and 
kept by a porter within, who opens to any persons requiring to be 
admitted. The quarters mostly consist of several narrow lanes, 
having but one genei^al entrance, with a gate, which is also closed 
at night ; but several have a by-street passing through them. 

Of the private houses of the metropolis it is particularly neces- 
sary that I should give a description. The accompanying engrav- 


Page 22. 



ing will serve to give a general notion of their exterior". The 
foundation-walls, to the height of the first floor, are cased exter- 
nally and often internally with the soft calcareous stone of the 
neighbouring mountain. The surface of the stone when newly 
cut is of a light yellowish hue, but its colour soon darkens. The 


alternate courses of the front are sometimes coloured red and 
white, particularly in large houses ; as is the case with most 
mosques. The superstructure, the front of which generally pro- 
jects about two feet, and is supported by corbels or piers, is of 
brick, and often plastered. The bricks are burnt, and of a dull 



red colour. The mortar is generally composed of mud in the 
proportion of one half, with a fourth part of lime, and the re- 
maining part of the ashes of straw and rubbish. Hence the 
unplastered walls of brick are of a dirty colour, as if the bricks 
were unburnt. The roof is flat, and covered with a coat of plaster. 

1 ^ i i^ ^ J 1 ! I 


The most usual architectural style of the entrance of a private 
house in Cairo is shown by the sketch here inserted. The door 
is often ornamented in the manner here represented. The com- 
partment in which is the inscription, and the other similarly- 
shaped compartments, are painted red, bordered with white; the 


rest of the surface of the door is painted green. Tlie inscription, 
" He [that is, God] is the excellent Creator, the Everlasting " (the 
object of which will be explained when I treat of the superstitions 
of the Egyptians), is seen on many doors, but is far from being 
•general. It is usually painted in black or white characters. Few 
doors but those of large houses are painted. They generally have 
an iron knocker and a wooden lock, and there is usually a mount- 
ing-stone by the side. 

The ground-floor apartments next the street have small wooden 
grated windows, placed sufticiently high to render it impossible 
for a person passing by in the street, even on horseback, to see 
through them. The windows of the upper apartments generally 
project a foot and a half or more, and are mostly formed of turned 
wooden lattice-work, which is so close that it shuts out much of 
the light and sun, and screens the inmates of the house from the 
view of persons without, while at the same time it admits the air. 
They are generally of unpainted wood, but some few are partially 
painted red and gi-een, and some are entirely painted. A window 
of this kind is called a " roshan," or more commonly a " meshre- 
beeyeh," which latter word has another application that will be 
mentioned below. Several windows of difterent descriptions are 
represented in some of the illustrations of this work, and sketches 
of the most common patterns of the lattice-work on a larger 
scale are here inserted. Sometimes a window of the kind above 
described has a little meshrebeeyeh, which somewhat resembles a 
roshan in miniature, projecting from the front or from each side. 
In this, in order to be exposed to a current of air, are placed 
porous earthen bottles, which are used for cooling water by 
evaporation. Hence the name of " meshrebeeyeh," which signifies 
"a place for drink " or "— for drinking." The projecting window 
has a flat one of lattice-work, or of grating of wood, or of coloured 
glass, immediately above it. This upper window, if of lattice- 
work, is often of a more fanciful construction than the others, 
exhibiting a representation of a basin with a ewer above it, or the 
figure of a lion, or the name of " Allah," or the words, " God is 
my hope," etc. Some projecting windows are wholly constructed 
of boards, and a few have frames of glass in the sides. In the 
better houses also the windows of lattice-work are now generally 



furnished with frames of glass in the inside, which in the winter 
are wholly closed ; for a penetrating cold is felt in Egypt when 
the thermometer of Fahrenheit is below 60°. The windows of 


[From the centre of one row of heads to that of the next in these specimens is between an inch 
ajid a qitarter and an inch and three-quarters,) 

inferior houses are mostly of a different kind, being even with the 
exterior surface of the wall. The upper part is of wooden lattice- 



work or grating, and the lower closed by hanging shutters ; but 
many of these have a little meshrebeeyeh for the water-bottles 
projecting from the lower part. 


The houses in general are two or three stories high, and 
almost every house that is sufficiently large encloses an open, 
unpaved court, called a "hosh," which is entered by a passage 



that is constructed with one or two turnings, for the purpose of 
preventing passengers in the street from seeing into it. In this 
passage, just within the door, there is a long stone seat, called 

fcj i'[iii.iii..'^w ■ " '"t^^- ''iiiiii'':^iiniii"i'''^^iiiiitiii^"^l| 'lil^ 



a~!r^:'-w \' r^ ' F^ ' 'irn 


[About eight /cet -wide.) 

"mastab'ah," built against the back or side wall, for the porter 
and other servants. In the court is a well of slightly bi'ackish 



water, which filters through the soil from the Nile ; and on its 
most shaded side are commonly two watei'-jars, which are daily 
replenished with water of the ISTile, brought from the river in 
skins. The principal apartments look into the court, and their 
exterior walls (those which are of brick) are plastered and white- 
washed. There are several doors, which are entered from the 
court. One of these is called " bab el-hareem " (the door of the 
hareeni). It is the entrance of the stairs which lead to the apart- 
ments appropriated exclusively to the women and their master 
and his children. 

In general there is, on the ground-floor, an apartment called a 
" mandar'ah," in which male visitors are received. This has a 


wide, wooden, grated window, or two windows of this kind, next 
the' court. A small part of the floor, extending from the door to 
the opposite side of the room, is six or seven inches lower than 
the rest : this part is called the " durka'ah." In a handsome 
house, the durkd'ah of the mandar'ah is paved with white and 
black marble, and little pieces of fine red tile, inlaid in compli- 
cated and tasteful patterns, and has in the centre a fountain 
(called " faskeeyeh"), which plays into a small shallow pool, lined 
with coloured marbles, etc., like the surrounding pavement. I 
give a sketch of the fountain. The water which falls from the 
fountain is drained off" from the pool by a pipe. There is generally, 



fronting the door, at the end of the durka'ah, a shelf of marble 
or of common stone, about four feet high, called a " suffeh," sup- 
ported by two or more arches, or by a single arch, under which 
are placed utensils in ordinary use — such as perfuming vessels, 
and the basin and ewer which ai-e used for washing before and 
a,fter meals, and for the ablution preparatory to prayer : water- 
bottles, coflFee-cups, etc., are placed upon the sufteh. In hand- 
some houses the arches of the sufteh are faced with marble and 
tile, like the pool of the fountain represented in the sketch above ; 
and sometimes the wall over it, to the height of about four feet or 
more, is also cased with similar materials — partly with large up- 
right slabs, and partly wnth small pieces, like the durkA'ah. The 
raised part of the floor of the room is called " leewan " (a cor- 
ruption of " el-eew;'in," Avhich signifies " any raised place to sit 

upon," and also " a palace "). Every person slips off" his shoes on 
the durka'ah befoi'e he steps upon the leewan.- The latter is 
generally paved w^ith common stone, and covered with a mat in 
summer, and a cai'pet over the mat in winter ; and has a mattress 
and cushions placed against each of its three walls, composing 
what is called a " deewan," or divan. The mattress, which is 
generally about three feet wide and three or four inches thick, 
is placed either on the ground or on a raised frame ; and the 
cushions, which are usually of a length equal to the width of the 
mattress, and of a height equal to half that measure, lean against 
the wall. Both mattresses and cushions are stufied with cotton, 
and are covered with printed calico, cloth, or some more expen- 
sive stuff". The walls are plastered and whitewashed. There are 
generally, in the walls, two or three shallow cupboards, the doors 



of which are composed of very small panels, on account of the 
heat and dryness of the climate, which cause wood to warp and 
shrink as if it were placed in an oven ; for which reason the doors 

(ReprescHlcd oh a scale of one inch to iwciity-fjicr or thirty.) 

of the apartments also are constructed in the same manner. We 
observe great variety and much ingenuity displayed in the differ- 

(440) 3 



ent modes in which these small panels are formed and disposed. 
A few specimens are here introduced. The ceiling over the 
leewan is of wood, with carved beams, generally about a foot 
apart, partially painted, and sometimes gilt. But that part of the 
ceiling which is over the durkd'ah, in a handsome house, is usually 
more richly decorated ; here, instead of beams, numerous thin 
strips of wood are nailed upon the j)lanks, forming patterns 

iAlwut eight feet Tvide.) 

curiously complicated, yet perfectly regular, and having a highly- 
ornamental effect. I give a sketch of the half of a ceiling thus 
decollated, but not in the most complicated style. The strips are 
painted yellow or gilt, and the spaces within painted green, red, 
and blue. (See Jer. xxii. 14.) In the example which I have 
inserted, the colours are as indicated in the sketch of a portion of 



the same on a larger scale, excepting in the square in the centre 
of the ceiling, where the strips are black, upon a yellow ground. 
From the centre of this square a chandelier is often suspended. 
There are many patterns of a similar kind, and the colours gener- 
ally occupy similar places with regard to each other ; but in some 
houses these ceilings are not painted. The ceiling of a projecting 
window is often ornamented in the same manner. A sketch of 
one is here given. Good taste is evinced by only decorating in 
this manner parts which are not always before the eyes, for to 
look long at so many lines intersecting each other in various direc- 
tions would be i^ainful. 


^AboiU eight feet by three.) 

In some houses (as in that which is the subject of the engrav- 
ing on p. 29) there is another room, called a " mak'ad,'^ for the 
same use as the mandar'ah, having an open front, with two or more 
arches and a low railing; and also, on the ground-floor, a square 
recess, called a " takhtab6sh," with an open front, and generally 
a pillar to support the wall above : its floor is a paved leewan ; 
and there is a long wooden sofa placed along one, or two, or each 
of its three walls. The court, during the summer, is frequently 
sprinkled with water, which renders the surrounding apartments 
agreeably cool — or at least those on the ground-floor. All the 
rooms are furnished in the same manner as that first described. 

Among the upper apartments, or those of the hareem, there 
is generally one called a " ka'ah," which is particularly lofty. It 
has two leewans — one on each hand of a person entering ; one of 
these is generally larger than the other, and is the moi'o honour- 
able part. A portion of the roof of this saloon, the part which is 
over the durka'ah that divides the two leewans, is a little elevated 
above the rest, and has in tlie centre a small lantern, called 



" memrak," the sides of which are composed of lattice-work, like 
the windows before described, and support a cupola. The dur- 

ka'ah is commonly without a fountain, but is often paved in a 
similar manner to that of the mandar'ah, which the ka'ah also 
resembles in having a handsome suffeh, and cupboards of curious 


panel-work. There is, besides, iu this and some other apartments, 
a narrow shelf of wood, extending along two or each of the three 
walls which bound the leewan, about seven feet or more from the 
floor, just above the cupboards, but interrupted in some parts — 
at least in those parts where the windows ai'e placed ; upon this 
are arranged several vessels of china, not so much for general use 
as for ornament. All the apartments are lofty, generally fourteen 
feet or more in height ; but the ka'ah is the largest and most lofty 
room, and in a large house it is a noble saloon. 

In several of the upper rooms, in the houses of the wealthy, 
there are, besides the windows of lattice-work, others of coloured 
glass, representing bunches of flowers, peacocks, and other gay 
and gaudy objects, or merely fanciful patterns, which have a 
pleasing effect. These coloured glass windows, which are termed 
'• kamareeyehs," are mostly from a foot and a half to two feet 
and a half in height, and from one to two feet in width, and are 
generally placed along the upper part of the projecting lattice- 
window, in a row ; or above that kind of window, disposed in a 
group, so as to form a large square ; or elsewhere in the upper 
parts of the walls, usually singly, or in pairs, side by side. They 
are composed of small pieces of glass of various colours, set in 
rims of fine plaster, and enclosed in a frame of wood. On the 
plastered Avails of some apartments are rude paintings of the 
temple of Mekkeh, or of the tomb of the Prophet, or of flowers 
and other objects, executed by native Muslim artists, who have 
not the least notion of the rules of perspective, and who conse- 
quently deface what they thus attempt to decorate. Sometimes 
also the walls are ornamented with Arabic inscriptions, of maxims, 
etc., which are more usually written on paper, in an embellished 
style, and enclosed in glazed frames. No chambers are furnished 
as bedrooms. The bed in the daytime is rolled up and placed 
on one side, or in an adjoining closet, called " khazneh," which 
in the winter is a sleeping-place : in summer many people sleep 
upon the house-top. A mat, or carpet, spread upon the raised 
jiart of the stone floor, and a deewan, constitute the complete 
furniture of a room. For meals, a round tray is brought in and 
placed upon a low stool, and the company sit round it on the 
ground. There is no fire-place ; •^ the room is warmed, when 



necessary, by burning charcoal in a chafing-dish. Many houses 
have, at the top, a sloping shed of boards, called a " malkaf," di- 
rected towards the north or north-west, to convey to a " fes-hah " 
or " fesahah " (an open apartment) below the cool breezes which 
generally blow from those quarters. 

Every door is furnished with a wooden lock, called a "dabbeh," 
the mechanism of which is shown by a sketch here inserted. 
No. 1 in this sketch is a front view of the lock, with the bolt 
drawn back ; Nos. 2, 3, and 4 are back views of the separate 
parts, and the key. A number of small iron pins (four, five, 
or more) drop into corresponding holes in the sliding bolt as 




soon as the latter is pushed into the hole or staple of the door- 
post. The key also has small pins, made to correspond with the 
holes, into which they are introduced to open the lock ; the former 
pins being thus pushed up, the bolt may be drawn back. The 
wooden lock of a street-door is commonly about fourteen inches 
long ; those of the doors of apartments, cupboaixls, etc., are about 
seven or eight or nine inches. The locks of the gates of quarters, 
public buildings, etc., are of the same kind, and mostly two feet, 
or even more, in length. It is not difficult to pick this kind of lock. 
In the plan of almost every house there is an utter want of 
regularity. The apartments are generally of different heights, so 
that a person has to ascend or descend one, two, or more steps to 


jjass from one chamber to another adjoining it. The principal 
aim of the architect is to render the house as private as possible, 
particularly that part of it which is inhabited by the women, and 
not to make any window in such a situation as to overlook the 
apartments of another house. Another object of the architect, in 
building a house for a person of wealth or rank, is to make a 
secret door (" bdb sirr "), from which the tenant may make liis 
escape in case of dangei* from an arrest, or an attempt at assas- 
sination, or by which to give access and egress to a paramour ; and 
it is also common to make a hiding-place for treasure (called 
" makhba ") in some part of the house. In the hareem of a large 
house there is generally a bath, which is heated in the same 
manner as the public baths. 

Another style of building has lately been very generally adopted 
for houses of the more Avealthy. These do not differ much from 
those already described, excepting in the Avindows, which are of 
glass, and placed almost close together. Each window of the 
hareem has, outside, a sliding frame of close wooden trellis-work, 
to cover the lower half. The numerous glass windows are ill 
adapted to a hot climate. 

When shops occupy the lower part of the buildings in a street 
(as is generally the case in the great thoroughfares of the metro- 
polis, and in some of the by-streets), the superstructure is usually 
divided into distinct lodgings, and is termed " raba." These 
lodgings are separate from each other, as well as from the shops 
below, and let to families who cannot afibrd the rent of a whole 
house. Each lodging in a raba comprises one or two sitting or 
sleeping rooms, and generally a kitchen and latrina. It seldom 
has a separate entrance from the street, one entrance and one 
staircase usually admitting to a range of several lodgings. The 
apartments are similar to those of the private houses first de- 
scribed. They are never let ready-furnished ; and it is very seldom 
that a person who has not a wife or female slave is allowed to 
reside in them, or in any private house : such a person (unless he 
have parents or other near relations to dwell with) is usually obliged 
to take up his abode in a " wekaleh," which is a building chiefly 
designed for the reception of merchants and their goods. Franks, 
however, are now exempted from this restriction. 


Very few large or handsome houses are to be seen in Egypt, 
excepting in the metropolis and some other towns. The dwellings 
of the lower orders, particularly those of the peasants, are of a 
very mean description ; they are mostly built of unbaked bricks, 
cemented together with mud. Some of them are mere hovels. 
The greater number, however, comprise two or more apartments, 
though few are two stories high. In one of these apartments, in 
the houses of the peasants in Lower Egypt, there is generally an 
oven (" furn"), at the end farthest from the entrance, and occupy- 
ing the whole width of the chamber. It resembles a wide bench 
or seat, and is about breast-high : it is constructed of brick and 
mud ; the roof arched within, and flat on the top. The inhabit- 
ants of the house, who seldom have any night-covering during the 
winter, sleep upon the top of the oven, having previously lighted 
a fire within it; or the husband and wife only enjoy this luxury, 
and the children sleep upon the floor. The chambers have small 
apertures high up in the walls, for the admission of light and air 
— sometimes furnished with a grating of wood. The roofs are 
formed of palm branches and palm leaves, or of millet stalks, etc., 
laid upon rafters of the trunk of the palm, and covered with a 
plaster of mud and chopped straw. The furniture consists of a 
mat or two to sleep upon, a few earthen vessels, and a liand-mill 
to grind the corn. In many villages large pigeon-houses of a 
square form, but with the walls slightly inclining inwards (like 
many of the ancient Egyptian buildings), or of the form of a 
sugar-loaf, are constructed upon the roofs of the huts, with crude; 
brick, pottery, and mud. Most of the villages of Egypt are situ- 
ated upon eminences of rubbish, which rise a few feet above the 
reach of the inundation, and are surrounded by palm trees, or have 
a few of these trees in their vicinity. The rubbish which they 
occupy chiefly consists of the materials of former huts, and seems 
to increase in about the same degree as the level of the alluvial 
plains and the bed of the river. 

In a country where neither births nor deaths are registered it is 
next to impossible to ascertain with precision the amount of the 
population. A few years ago a calculation was made, founded on 
the number of houses in Egypt, and the supposition that the in- 
habitants of each house in the metropolis amount to eight persons, 


and in the provinces to four. This computation approximates, I 
believe, very nearly to the truth ; but personal observation and 
inquiry incline me to think that the houses of such towns as 
Alexandria, Boohlk, and Masr el-'Ateekah contain each, on the 
average, at least five persons. Rasheed (or Rosetta) is half de- 
serted ; but as to the crowded town of Dimyat (or Damietta), 
we must reckon as many as six persons to each house, or our 
estimate will fall far short of what is generally believed to be the 
number of its inhabitants. The addition of one or two persons 
to each house in the above-mentioned towns will, however, make 
little difference in the computation of the whole population of 
Egypt, which was found, by this mode of reckoning, to amount 
to rather more than 2,500,000; but it is now much reduced. Of 
2,500,000 souls, say 1,200,000 are males, and one -third of this 
number (400,000) men fit fur military service. From this latter 
number the present Basha of Egypt has taken, at the least, 
200,000 (that is, one-half of the most serviceable portion of the 
male popula ion) to form and recruit his armies of regular troops, 
and for the service of his navy. The further loss caused by 
withdrawing so many men from their wives, or preventing their 
marrying, during ten years, must surely far exceed 300,000 ; con- 
sequently, the present population may be calculated as less than 
two millions. The numbers of the several classes of Avliich the 
population is mainly composed are nearly as follow : — • 

Muslim Egj'ptians (fellaheen, or peasants, and townspeople) ...1,750,000 

Christian Egyptians (Copts) 150,000 

'Osmanlees, or Turks.. 10,000 

Syrians 5,000 

Greeks 5,000 

Armenians 2,000 

Jews 5,000 

Of the remainder (namely, Arabians, Western Arabs, Nubians, 
Negro slaves, Memlooks [or white male slaves], female white 
slaves, Franks, etc.), amounting to about 70,000, the respective 
numbers are very uncertain and variable. The Arabs of the 
neighbouring deserts ought not to be included among the popu- 
lation of Egypt. 

Cairo, I have said, contains about 240,000 inhabitants. AVe 


should be greatly deceived if we judged of the population of this 
city from the crowds that we meet in the principal thoroughfare- 
streets and markets ; in most of the by-streets and quartei's very 
few passengers are seen. Nor should we judge from the extent 
of the city and suburbs, for there are within the walls many 
vacant places, some of which, during the season of the inunda- 
tion, are lakes (as the Birket el-Ezbekeeyeh, Bii-ket el-Feel, etc.). 
The gardens, several burial-grounds, the courts of houses, and the 
mosques, also occupy a considerable space. Of the inhabitants 
of the metropolis, about 190,000 are Egyptian INIuslims ; about 
10,000, Copts; 3,000 or 4,000, Jews; and the rest, strangers from 
various countries. 

The population of Egypt in the times of the Pharaohs was 
probably about six or seven millions. The produce of the soil in 
the present age would suffice, if none Avere exported, for the main- 
tenance of a population amounting to 4,000,000 ; and if all the 
soil which is capable of cultivation wei'e sown, the produce would 
be sufficient for the maintenance of 8,000,000. But this would 
be the utmost number that Egypt could maintain in years of 
plentiful inundation. I therefore compute the ancient population, 
at the time when agriculture was in a very flourishing state, to 
have amounted to what I first stated ; and must suppose it to 
have been scarcely more than half as numerous in the times of 
the Ptolemies, and at later periods, when a great quantity of corn 
was annually exported. This calculation agrees with what Dio- 
dorus Siculus says (in lib. i. cap. 31) — namely, that Egypt con- 
tained, in the times of the ancient kings, 7,000,000 inhabitants, 
and in his own time not less than 3,000,000. 

How different aiow is the state of Egypt from what it might 
be, possessing a population of scarcely more than one quarter of the 
number that it might be rendered capable of supporting ! How 
great a change miglit be effected in it by a truly enlightened 
government, by a jDrince who (instead of impoverisliing the peas- 
antry by depriving them of their lands, and by his monopolies of 
the most valuable productions of the soil ; by employing the best 
portion of the population to prosecute his ambitious schemes of 
foreign conquest, and another large portion in the vain attempt to 
rival European manufactures) would give his people a greater 


interest in the cultivation of the fields, and make Egypt what na- 
ture designed it to be — almost exclusively an agricultural country ! 
Its produce of cotton alone would more than suffice to procure all 
the articles of foreign manufacture, and all the natural productions 
of foreign countries, that the wants of its inhabitants demand. 

The desired change may now be easily efi'ected, for since the 
above was written the Basha has been placed in a new position, 
which will enable him to acquire a greater and more honourable 
fame, by the cultivation of the arts of peace, than his conquests, 
brilliant as they have been, have hitherto procured for him. No 
one who is acquainted with the modern history of Egypt, and more 
particularly with the state of the country during the period that 
intervened between the French expedition and the accession of 
Mohammad 'Alee to the ofiice of viceroy, can doubt that he pos- 
sesses extraordinary talents for government ; and let us hope that 
those talents will be rightly employed. But, as he himself affirms, 
some time will be required for effecting the necessary changes. 



Muslims of Arabian origin have for many centuries mainly com- 
posed the population of Egypt. They have changed its language, 
laws, and general manners ; and its metropolis they have made 
the principal seat of Arabian learning and arts. To the descrip- 
tion of this people, and especially of the middle and higher classes 
in the Egyptian capital, will be devoted the chief jDortion of the 
present work. In every point of view Masr (or Cairo) must be 
regarded as the first Arab city of our age ; and the manners and 
customs of its inhabitants are particularly interesting, as they are 
a combination of those which prevail most generally in the towns 
of Arabia, Syria, and the whole of Korthern Africa, and in a great 
degree in Turkey. There is no other place in which we can obtain 
so complete a knowledge of the most civilized classes of the Arabs. 
From statements made in the introduction to this work, it 


appears that Muslim Egyptians (or Arab-Egyptians) comjjose 
nearly four-lifths of the population of the metropolis (which is 
computed to amount to about 240,000), and just seven-eighths of 
that of all Egypt. 

The Muslim Egyptians are descended from various Arab tribes 
and families which have settled in Egypt at different periods — 
mostly soon after the conquest of this country by 'Amr, its first 
Arab governor ; but by intermarriages with the Copts and others 
who have become proselytes to the faith of El-Islam, as well as by 
the change from a life of wandering to that of citizens or of agri- 
culturists, their personal characteristics liave, by degrees, become 
so much altered, that there is a strongly-marked difference between 
them and the natives of Arabia. Yet they are to be regarded as 
not less genuine Arabs than the townspeople of Arabia itself, 
among whom has long and very genei'ally prevailed a custom of 
keeping Abyssinian female slaves, either instead of marrying their 
own countrywomen, or (as is commonly the case with the opulent) 
in addition to their Arab wives ; so that they bear almost as 
strong a resemblance to the Abyssinians as to the Bedawees or 
Arabs of the Desert. The term "Arab," it should here be re- 
marked, is now used wherever the Arabic language is spoken 
only to designate the Bedawees collectively. In speaking of a 
tribe, or of a small number of those people, the word " 'Orban " is 
also used ; and a single individual is called " Bedawee." In the 
metropolis and other towns of Egypt, the distinction of tribes 
is almost wholly lost; but it is preserved among the peasants, 
who have retained many Bedawee customs, of which I shall have 
to speak. The native Muslim inhabitants of Cairo commonly call 
themselves " El-Masreeyeen," " Owlad-Masr " (or " Ahl-Masr "), and 
" Owlad-el-Beled," which signify people of Masr, children of Masr, 
and children of the town : the singular forms of these appellations 
are " Masree," " Ibn-Masr," and " Ibn-el-Beled." Of these three 
terms, the last is most common in the town it.self. The country 
people are called " El-Fellaheen " (or the agriculturists), in the 
singular " Fellah." The Turks often apply this term to the 
Egyptians in general in an abusive sense, as meaning " the boors " 
or " the clowns ; " and improperly stigmatize them Avith the ap- 
pellation of " Ahl-Far'oon,'' or " the people of Pharaoh." 


In general, the IMuslim Egyptians attain the height of about 
five feet eight oi' five feet nine inches. Most of the children 
under nine or ten years of age have S23are limbs and a distended 
abdomen; but as they grow up their forms rapidly improve. In 
mature age most of them are remarkably well proportioned — the 
men, muscular and robust ; the women, very beautifully formed 
and plump ; and neither sex is too fat. I have never seen cor- 
pulent persons among them, excepting a few in the metropolis 
and other towns, rendered so by a life of inactivity. In Cairo 
and throughout the northern provinces, those who have not been 
much exposed to the sun have a yellowish but very clear com- 
plexion and soft skin ; the rest are of a considerably darker and 
coarser complexion. The people of Middle Egypt are of a more 
tawny colour, and those of the more southern provinces are of a 
deep bronze or brown complexion — darkest towards Kubia, where 
the climate is hottest. In general, the countenance of the Muslim 
Egyptian (I here speak of the men) is of a fine oval form ; the 
forehead, of moderate size, seldom high, but generally prominent ; 
the eyes are deep-sunk, black, and brilliant ; the nose is straight, 
but ratlier thick ; the mouth well formed ; the lips are I'ather full 
than otherwise ; the teeth particularly beautiful ; the beard is 
commonly black and curly, but scanty. I have seen very few in- 
dividuals of this race with gray eyes — or rather, few persons sup- 
posed to be of this race ; for I am inclined to think them the oft- 
spring of Arab women by Turks or other foreigners. The Fella- 
heen, from constant exposure to the sun, have a habit of half 
shutting their eyes ; this is also characteristic of the Bedawees. 
Great numbers of the Egyptians are blind in one or both eye.s. 
They generally shave that part of the cheek which is above the 
lower jaw, and likewise a small space under the lower lip, leaving, 
however, the hairs which grow in the middle under the mouth ; 
or, instead of shaving these parts, they pluck out the hair. They 
also shave a part of the beard under the chin. Very few shave 
the rest of their beards, and none their moustaches.^ The former 
they suffer to grow to the length of about a hand's-breadth below 
the chin (such, at lea-st, is the general rule, and such was the cus- 
tom of the Prophet) ; and their moustaches they do not allow to 
become so long as to incommode them in eating and drinking. 


The practice of dyeing the beard is not common, for a gray beard is 
much resj^ected. The Egyptians sliave all the rest of the hair, or 
leave only a small tuft (called " shoosheh ") upon the crown of the 
liead. This last custom (which is almost universal among them), I 
have been told, originated in the fear that if the Muslim should 
fall into the hands of an infidel and be slain, the latter might cut 
off the head of his victim, and finding no hair by which to hold it, 
put his impure hand into the mouth in order to carry it ; for the 
beard might not be sufficiently long. With the like view of avoid- 
ing impurity, the Egyi:)tians observe other customs which need not 
here be described. Many men of the lower orders, and some 
others, make blue marks upon their arms, and sometimes upon the 
hands and chest, as the women, in speaking of whom this opera- 
tion will be described. 

The dress of the men of the middle and higher classes consists 
of the following articles :— First, a pair of full drawers of linen or 
cotton, tied round the body by a running string or band, the ends 
of which are embroidered with coloured silks, though concealed 
by the outer dress. The drawei's descend a little below the knees 
or to the ankles ; but many of the Arabs will not wear long 
drawers, because prohibited by the Prophet. Next is worn a 
shirt, with very full sleeves reaching to the wrist ; it is made of 
linen of a loose, open texture, or of cotton stuff", or of muslin or 
silk, or of a mixture of silk and cotton, in stripes, but all white. 
Over this, in winter, or in cool weather, most persons wear a 
" sudeyree," which is a short vest of cloth, or of striped coloured 
silk and cotton, without sleeves. Over the shirt and sudeyree, 
or the former alone, is worn a long vest of striped silk and cotton 
(called " kaftan," or more commonly " kuftan "), descending to 
the ankles, with long sleeves extending a few inches beyond the 
fingers' ends, but divided from a point a little above the wrist or 
about the middle of the forearm ; so that the hand is generally 
exposed, though it may be concealed by the sleeve when neces- 
sary, for it is customary to cover the hands in the presence of a 
person of high rank. Round this vest is wound the girdle, which 
is a coloured shawl, or a long piece of white-figured muslin. The 
ordinary outer robe is a long cloth coat of any colour (called by 
the Turks " jubbeh," but by the Egyptians " gibbeh "), the sleeves 


of which reach not quite to the wrist. Some persons also wear 
a " beneesh," or " benish," which is a robe of cloth, with long 
sleeves like those of the kuftan, but more ample. It is properly 


a robe of ceremony, and should be worn over the other cloth coat ; 
but many persons wear it instead of the gibbeh. Another robe, 
called " farageeyeh," nearly resembles the beneesh. Tt has very 


long sleeves, hut these are not slit, and it is chiefly worn hy men 
of the learned professions. In cold or cool weather a kind of 
black woollen cloak, called " 'abayeh," is commonly worn. Some- 
times this is drawn over the head. In winter also many persons 
wrap a muslin or other shawl (such as they use for a turban) about 
the head and shoulders. The head-dress consists, first, of a small, 
close-fitting, cotton cap, which is often changed ; next, a " tar- 
boosh," which is a red cloth cap, also fitting closely to the head, 
with a tassel of dark-blue silk at the crown ; lastly, a long piece 
of white muslin, generally figured, or a Kashmeer shawl, which is 
wound round the tarboosh. Thus is formed the turban. The 
Kashmeer shawl is seldom worn excepting in cool weather. Some 
persons wear two or three tarbooshes, one over another. A 
"shereef" (or descendant of the Prophet) wears a green turban, 
or is privileged to do so, but no other person ; and it is not com- 
mon for any but a shereef to wear a bright green dress. Stockings 
are not in use, but some few persons, in cold weather, wear 
woollen or cotton socks. The shoes are of thick, red morocco, 
pointed and turning up at the toes. Some persons also wear inner 
shoes of soft yellow morocco, and with soles of the same. The 
outer shoes are taken off on stepping upon a carpet or mat ; but 
not the inner, for this reason — the former ai-e often worn turned 
down at the heel. 

On the little finger of the right hand is worn a seal-ring, which 
is generally of silver, with a carnelian, or other stone, upon which 
is engraved the wearer's name. The name is usually accompanied 
by the words " his servant " (signifying " the servant or worshipper 
of God "), and often by other words expressive of the person's 
trust in God, etc. The Prophet disapproved of gold, therefore 
few Muslims wear gold rings ; but the women have various orna- 
ments (rings, bracelets, etc.) of that precious metal. The seal-ring 
is used for signing letters and other writings, and its impression 
is considered more valid than the sign-manual.* A little ink is 
dabbed upon it with one of the fingers, and it is pressed upon the 
paper, the person who uses it having first touched his tongue with 
another finger and moistened the place in the paper which is to be 

* Thereforo, ffivinK the vincr to another person is the iitnioft mark of confidence. (See 
Gen. xli. 42.) 


stamped. Almost every person who can afford it has a seal-ring, 
even though he be a servant. The regular scribes, literary men, 
and many others, Avear a silver, brass, or copper '* dawayeh," 
which is a case with receptacles for ink and pens, stuck in the 
girdle.* Some have, in the place of this, or in addition to it, a 
case-knife or a dagger. 

The Egyptian generally takes his pipe with him wherever he 
goes (unless it be to the mosque), or has a servant to carry it, 
though it is not a common custom to smoke while riding or walk- 
ing. The tobacco-purse he crams into his bosom, the kuftan being 
large, and lapping over in front. A handkerchief, embroidered 
with coloured silks and gold, and neatly folded, is also placed in 
the bosom. Many persons of the middle orders, who wish to avoid 
being thought rich, conceal such a dress as I have described by a 
long black gown of cotton, similar to the gown worn by most per- 
sons of the lower classes. 

The costume of the men of the lower orders is very simple. 
These, if not of the very poorest class, wear a pair of drawers and 
a long and full shirt or gown of blue linen or cotton, or of brown 
woollen stuff (the former called " 'eree," and the latter "zaaboot"), 
open from the neck nearly to the waist, and having wide sleeves. 
Over this some wear a white or red woollen girdle. Their turban 
is generally composed of a white, red, or yellow woollen shawl, or 
of a piece of coarse cotton or muslin wound round a tarboosh, 
under which is a white or brown felt cap ; but many are so poor 
as to have no other cap than the latter — no turban, nor even 
drawers nor shoes, but only the blue or brown shirt, or merely a 
few rags ; while many, on the other hand, wear a sudeyree under 
the blue shirt ; and some, particularly servants in the houses of 
great men, wear a white shirt, a sudeyree, and a kuftan or gibbeh, 
or both, and the blue shirt over all. The full sleeves of this shirt 
are sometimes drawn up by means of cords, which pass round each 
shoulder and cross behind, where they are tied in a knot. This 
custom is adopted by servants (particularly grooms), who have 
cords of crimson or dark-blue silk for this purpose. In cold 
weather many persons of the lower classes wear an 'abayeh, like 
that before described, but coarser, and sometimes (instead of being 

* This is a very ancient custom. (See Ezek. ix. 2, 3, 11.) 
(4-10) ' 4 



black) having broad stripes, brown and white, or blue and white, 
but the latter rarely. Another kind of cloak, more full than the 
'abayeh, of black or deep-blue woollen stuft', is also very commonly 


worn; it is called "difFeeyeh." The shoes are of red or yellow 
morocco, or of sheep-skin. 

Several different forms of turbans are represented in some of 


the engravings which illustrate this work. The Muslims are dis- 
tinguished by the colours of their turbans from the Copts and the 
Jews, who (as well as other subjects of the Turkish Sultan who are 
not Muslims) wear black, blue, gray, or light-brown turbans, and 
generally dull-coloured dresses. The distinction of sects, families, 
dynasties, etc., among the Muslim Arabs, by the colour of the tur- 
ban and other articles of dress, is of very early origin. When the 
Imam Ibraheem Ibn-Mohammad, asserting his pretensions to the 
dignity of Khaleefeh [or Caliph], was put to death by the Uma- 
wee Khaleefeh Marwan, many persons of the family of El-'Abbcis 
assumed black clothing in testimony of their sorrow for his fate ; 
and hence the black dress and turban (which latter is now 
characteristic, almost solely, of Christian and Jewish tributaries 
to the 'Osmiinlee, or Turkish, Sultan) became the distinguishing 
costume of the 'Abbasee Khaleefehs, and of their officers. When 
an officer under this dynasty was disgraced, he was made to wear 
a white dress. White was adopted by the false prophet El- 
Mukanna', to distinguish his party from the 'Abbasees ; and the 
Fawdtira of Egypt (or Khaleefehs of the race of Fatimeh), as 
rivals of the Abbasees, wore a white costume. El-Melik El- 
Ashraf Shaaban, a Sultan of Egypt (who reigned from the year of 
the Flight 764 to 778, or a.d. 1362 to 1376), was the first who 
ordered the " shereefs " to distinguish themselves by the green 
turban and dress. Some darweeshes of the sect of the Rifa'ees, 
and a few, but very few, other Muslims, wear a turban of black 
woollen stuff, or of a very deep olive-coloured (almost black) 
muslin ; but that of the Copts, Jews, etc., is generally of black 
or blue muslin or linen. There are not many different forms 
of turbans noAv worn in Egypt . that worn by most of the 
servants is very formal. The kind common among the middle 
and higher classes of the tradesmen and other citizens of the 
metropolis and large towns is also very formal, but less so than 
that just before alluded to. The Turkish turban worn in Egypt 
is of a more elegant mode. The Syrian is distinguished by its 
width. The 'Ulama, and men of religion and letters in general, 
used to wear, as some do still, one particularly wide and formal, 
called a "mukleh." The turban is much respected. In the 
houses of the more wealthy classes there is usually a chair on 


which it is placed at night. This is often sent with the furniture 
of a bride, as it is common for a lady to have one upon which to 
place her head-dress. This kind of chair is never used for any- 
other purpose. As an instance of the respect paid to the turban, 
one of my friends mentioned to me that an 'Alim being thrown 
off his donkey in a street of this city, his mukleh fell oft' and 
rolled along for several yards , whereupon the passengers ran after 
it, crying, " Lift up the crown of ElTslam ! " while the poor 'dlim, 
whom no one came to assist, called out in anger, " Lift up the 
sheykli of El-lsh'im ! " 

The general form and features of the vxmien must now be 
described. From the age of about fourteen to that of eighteen 
or twenty, they are generally models of beauty in body and limbs ; 
and in countenance most of them are pleasing, and many ex- 
ceedingly lovely. But soon after they have attained their perfect 
growth, they rapidly decline : the bosom early loses all its beauty, 
acquiring, from the relaxing nature of the climate, an exces.sive 
length and flatness in its forms, even while the face retains its full 
charms ; and though, in most other respects, time does not com- 
monly so soon nor so much deform them, at the age of forty it 
renders many, who in earlier years possessed considerable attrac- 
tions, absolutely ugly. In the Egyptian females the forms of 
womanhood begin to develop themselves about the ninth or tenth 
year ; at the age of fifteen or sixteen they generally attain their 
highest degree of perfection. With regard to their complexions, 
the same remarks apply to them as to the men, with only this 
difference, that their faces, being generally veiled when they go 
abroad, are not quite so much tanned as those of the men. They 
are characterized, like the men, by a fine oval countenance, 
though in some instances it is rather broad. The eyes, with 
very few exceptions, are black, large, and of a long, almond form, 
with long and beautiful lashes, and an exquisitely soft, bewitching 
expression : eyes more beautiful can hardly be conceived. Their 
charming eff"ect is much heightened by the concealment of the 
other features (however pleasing the latter may be), and is 
rendered still more striking by a practice universal among the 
females of the higher and middle classes, and very common among 
those of the lower orders, which is that of blackening the edge of 


the eyelids, both above and below the eye, witli a black powder 
called "kohl." This is a collyriuin commonly composed of the 
smoke-black which is produced by burning a kind of " liban " — 
an aromatic resin — a species of frankincense, used, I am told, in 
preference to the better kind of frankincense, as being cheaper 
and equally good for this purpose. Kohl is also prepared of the 
smoke-black produced by burning the shells of almonds. These 
two kinds, though believed to be beneficial to the eyes, are used 
merely for ornament ; but there are 
several kinds used for their real or 
supposed medical properties, par- 
ticularly the powder of several 
kinds of lead ore, to which are 
often added sarcocolla, long pep- 
per, sugar-candy, fine dust of a 
Venetian sequin, and sometimes 
powdered pearls. Antimony, it is 
said, was formerly used for paint- 
ing the edges of the eyelids. The 
kohl is applied with a small jsrobe 
of wood, ivory, or silver, tapering 
towards the end, but blunt. This is moistened, sometimes with 
rose-water, then dipped in the powder, and drawn along the edges 
of the eyelids. It is called " mirwed," and the glass vessel in 
which the kohl is kept " muk-hul'ah." The custom 
of thus ornamenting the eyes prevailed among 
both sexes in Egypt in very ancient times. This 
is shown by the sculptures and paintings in the 
temples and tombs of this country ; and kohl 
vessels, with the probes, and even with the remains 
of the black powder, have often been found in the 
I have two in my possession. But in many cases 
the ancient mode of ornamenting with the kohl was a little 
difierent from the modern, as shown by the subjoined sketch. I 
have, however, seen this ancient mode practised in the present 
day in the neighbourhood of Cairo, though 1 only remember to 
have noticed it in two instances. The same custom existed 
among the ancient Greek ladies, and among the Jewish women 


(Represented on scales o/ one-third and a 

quarter q/ the real size.) 

{As represented in 
ancient paintings.) 

ancient tombs. 


in early times.* The eyes of the Egyptian women are generally 
the most beautiful of their features. Countenances altogether 
handsome are far less common among this race than handsome 
figures ; but I have seen among them faces distinguished by a 
style of beauty possessing such sweetness of expression, that they 
have struck me as exhibiting the perfection of female loveliness, 
and impressed me with the idea (perhaps not false) that their 
equals could not be found in any other country. With such eyes 
as many of them have, the face must be handsome, if its other 
features be but moderately well formed. The nose is generally 
straight ; the lips are mostly rather fuller than those of the men, 
but not in the least degree partaking of the negro character. The 
hair is of that deep, glossy black which best suits all but fair 
complexions ; in some instances it is rather coarse and crisp, but 
never woolly. 

The females of the higher and middle classes, and many of the 
poorer women, stain certain parts of their hands and feet (which 
are, with very few exceptions, beautifully formed) with the leaves 
of the henna tree, which impart a yellowish red or deep orange 
colour. Many thus dye only the nails of the fingers and toes ; 
others extend the dye as high as the first joint of each finger and 
toe ; some also make a stripe along the next row of joints ; and 
there are several other fanciful modes of applying the henna ; but 
the most common practice is to dye the tips of the fingers and 
toes as high as the first joint, and the whole of the inside of the 
hand and the sole of the foot — adding, though not always, the 
stripe above mentioned along the middle joints of the fingers, and 
a similar stripe a little above the toes. The henna is prepared 
for this use merely by being powdered and mixed with a little 
water, so as to form a paste. Some of this paste being spread in 
the palm of the hand, and on other parts of it which are to be 
dyed, and the fingers being doubled, and their extremities inserted 
into the paste in the palm, the whole hand is tightly bound with 
linen, and remains thus during a whole night. In a similar 
Qianner it is applied to the feet. The colour does not disappear 
until after many days : it is generally renewed after about a fort- 

* See 2 Kings ix. 30 (where, in our common version, we find the words " painted her 
face" for "painted her eyes"), and Ezekiel xxiii. 40. 


night ov three weeks. This custom prevails not only in Egypt 
but in several other countries of the East, which are supplied with 


henna from the banks of the Nile. To the nails the henna imparts 
a more bright, clear, and permanent colour than to the skin. 


When this dye alone is applied to the nails, or to a larger portion 
of the fingers and toes, it may, with some reason, be regarded as 


an embellishment, for it makes the general complexion of the 
hand and foot appear more delicate ; but many ladies stain their 
hands in a manner much less agreeable to our taste — by applying, 
immediately after the removal of the paste of henna, another 
paste composed of quick-lime, common smoke-black, and linseed- 
oil, they convert the tint of the henna to a black, or to a blackish 
olive hue. Ladies in Egypt are often seen with their nails stained 
with this colour, or with their fingers of the same dark hue from 
the extremity to the first joint, red from the first to the second 
joint, and of the former colour from the second to the third joint, 
with the palm also stained in a similar manner, having a broad, 
dark stripe across the middle, and the rest left red ; the thumb 
dark from the extremity to the first joint, and red from the first 
to the second joint. Some, after a more simple fashion, blacken 
the ends of the fingers and the whole of the inside of the hand. 

Among the females of the lower orders, in the country towns 
and villages of Egypt, and among the same classes in the metro- 
polis, but in a less degree, prevails a custom somewhat similar to 
that above described. It consists in making indelible marks of a 
blue or greenish hue upon the face and other parts, or at least 
upon the front of the chin, and upon the back of the right hand, 


and often also upon the left hand, the right arm, or both arms, 
the feet, the middle of the bosom, and the forehead. The most 
common of these marks made upon the chin and hands are here 
represented. The operation is performed with several needles 
(generally seven) tied together. With these the skin is pricked in 
the desired pattern, some smoke-black (of wood or oil), mixed 
with milk from the breast of a woman, is then rubbed in, and 
about a week after, before the skin has healed, a paste of the 
pounded fresh leaves of white beet or clover is applied, and gives 
a blue or greenish colour to the marks ; or, to produce the same 
effect in a more simple manner, some indigo is rubbed into the 
punctures, instead of the smoke-black, etc. It is generally per- 
formed at the age of about five or six years, and by gipsy women. 


The term applied to it is "dakk."' Most of the females of the 
higher parts of Upper Egypt, who are of a very dark complexion, 
tattoo their lips instead of the parts above mentioned, thus con- 
verting their natural colour to a dull bluish hue, which, to the 
eye of a stranger, is extremely displeasing. 

Another characteristic of the Egyptian women that should be 
here mentioned is their upright carriage and gait. This is most 
remarkable in the female peasantiy, owing, doubtless, in a great 
measure, to their habit of bearing a heavy earthen water-vessel 
and other burdens upon the head. 

The dress of the women of the middle and higher orders is 
handsome and elegant. Their shirt is very full, like that of the 
men, but rather shorter, reaching not quite to the knees ; it is 
also generally of the same kind of material as the men's shirt, or 
of coloured crape, sometimes black. A pair of very wide trousers 
(called " shintiyiin "), of a coloured striped stuff of silk and 
cotton, or of printed or worked or plain white muslin, is tied 
round the hips, under the shirt, with a dikkeh. Its lower extremi- 
ties are drawn up and tied just below the knee with running 
strings ; but it is sufficiently long to hang down to the feet, or 
almost to the ground, when attached in this manner. Over the 
shirt and shintiyan is worn a long vest (called " yelek "), of the 
same material as the latter. It nearly resembles the kuftiin of 
the men, but is more tight to the body and arms ; the sleeves also 
are longer ; and it is made to button down the front, from the 
bosom to a little below the girdle, instead of lapping over. It is 
open, likewise, on each side, from the height of the hip down- 
wards. In general the yelek is cut in such a manner as to leave 
half of the bosom uncovered, except by the shirt, but many 
ladies have it made more ample at that part ; and, according to 
the most approved fashion, it should be of a sufficient length to 
reach to the ground, or should exceed that length by two or 
three inches or more. A short vest (called " 'anter'ee "), reaching 
only a little below the waist, and exactly resemliHng a yelek 
of which the lower part has been cut off, is sometimes worn in- 
stead of the latter. A square shawl or an embroidered kerchief, 
doubled diagonally, is put loosely round the waist as a girdle ; 
the two corners that are folded together hanging down behind. 


Over the yelek is worn a gibbeli of cloth or velvet or silk, usually 
embroidered with gold or with coloured silk. It differs in form 
from the gibbeh of the men chiefly in being not so wide, par 


ticularly in the fore part, and is of the same length as the yelek. 
Instead of this, a jacket (called "saltah"), generally of cloth or 
velvet, and embroidered in the same manner as the gibbeh, is 
often worn. The head-dress consists of a tdkeeyeh and tarboosh, 


with a square kerchief (called " faroodeeyeh ") of printed or 
painted muslin, or one of crape, wound tightly round, composing 
what is called a " rabtah." Two or more such kerchiefs were 
commonly used a short time since, and are still sometimes, to 
form the ladies' turban, but always wound in a high, flat shape, 
very different from that of the turban of the men. A kind of 
crown, called "kurs," and other ornaments, are attached to the 

[The hand is partially itained -with henna.) 

ladies' head-dress. Descriptions and engravings of these and other 
ornaments of the women of Egypt will be found in the Appendix 
to this work. A long piece of white muslin embroidered at 
each end with coloured silks and gold, or of coloured crape orna- 



mented with gold thread, etc., and spangles, rests upon the head, 
and hangs down behind, nearly or quite to the ground : this is 
called "tarhah" — it is the head-veil. The face- veil I shall pre- 
sently describe. The hair, excepting over the forehead and 
temples, is divided into numerous braids or plaits, generally from 
eleven to twenty-five in number, but alwaj^s of an tmeveii number : 
these hang down the back. To each braid of hair are usually 
added three black silk cords, with little ornaments of gold, etc., 
attached to them. For a description of these, which are called 
"safa," I refer to the Appendix. Over the forehead the hair is 
cut rather short ; but tAvo full locks hang down on each side of 
the face : these are often curled in ringlets, and sometimes plaited. 
Few of the ladies of Egypt wear stockings or socks, but many 
of them wear " mezz " (or inner shoes), of yellow or red morocco, 
sometimes embroidered with gold. Over these, whenever they 
step off the matted or carpeted part of the floor, they put on 
"bd.boog" (or slippers) of yellow morocco, with high, pointed 
toes ; or use high wooden clogs or pattens, generally from four to 


nine inches in height, and usually ornamented with mother-of-pearl 
or silver, etc. These are always used in the bath by men and 
women, but not by many ladies at home. Some ladies wear them 
merely to keep their skirts from trailing on the ground ; others, 
to make themselves appear tall. Such is the dress which is worn 
by the Egyjitian ladies in the house. 

The riding or walking attire is called "tezyeereh." Whenever 
a lady leaves the house, she wears, in addition to what has been 
above described, first a large, loose gown (called " t6b," or *' seb- 
leh "), the sleeves of which are nearly equal in Avidth to the 
whole length of the gown. It is of silk, generally of a pink, or 


rose, or violet colour. Next is put on the " burko'," or face-veil, 
whicli is a long strip of white muslin, concealing the whole of the 
face except the eyes, and reaching nearly to the feet. It is sus- 


pended at the top by a narrow band, which passes up tlie forehead, 
and which is sewed, as are also the two upper corners of the veil, 
to a band that is tied round the head. The lady then covers 
herself with a " habarah," which, for a married lady, is composed 



of two breadths of glossy black silk, each ell- wide and three 
yards long. These are sewed together, at or near the selvages 
(according to the height of the person), the seam running hori- 
zontally, with respect to the manner in which it is worn. A piece 
of narrow black ribbon is sewed inside the upper part, about six 
inches from the edge, to tie round the head. This covering is 
always worn in the manner shown by the accompanying sketch. 
The unmarried ladies wear a habarah of white silk, or a shawl, 

(Ouly , 


o/" tluse, that to t/te right, is represented : 

its /nil length.) 

Some females of the middle classes, who cannot afford to purchase 
a habarah, wear instead of it an " eezar," which is a piece of 
white calico, of the same form and size as the former, and is worn 
in the same manner. On the feet are worn short> boots or socks 
(called " khuff "), of yellow morocco, and over these the bdboog. 

This dress, though chiefly designed for females of the higher 
classes, who are seldom seen in public on foot, is worn by many 
women who cannot often afford so far to imitate their superiors 
as to hire an ass to carry them. It is extremely inconvenient as 


a walking attire. Viewing it as a disguise for whatever is at- 
tractive or graceful in the person and adornments of the wearer, 
we should not find fault with it for being itself deficient in grace. 
We must remark, however, that in one respect it fails in accom- 
plishing its main purpose — displaying the eyes, which are almost 
always beautiful ; making them to appear still more so by conceal- 
ing the other features, which are seldom of equal beauty, and 
often causing the stranger to imagine a defective face perfectly 
charming. The veil is of very remote antiquity,* but from the 
sculptures and paintings of the ancient Egyptians it seems not to 
have been worn by the females of that nation. 

The dress of a large proportion of those women of the lower 
orders who are not of the poorest class consists of a pair of 
trousers or drawers (similar in form to the shintiyan of the ladies, 
but generally of plain white cotton or linen), a blue linen or 
cotton shirt (not quite so full as that of the men), a burko' of a 
kind of coarse black crape, and a dark-blue tarhah of muslin or 
linen. Some wear over the shirt, or instead of the latter, a linen 
tob, of the same form as that of the ladies. The sleeves of this 
are often turned up over the head, either to prevent their being 
incommodious, or to supply the place of a tarhah. In addition 
to these articles of dress, many women who are not of the very 
poor classes wear, as a covering, a kind of plaid, similar in form 
to the habarah, composed of two pieces of cotton, woven in small 
chequers of blue and white, or cross stripes, with a mixture of 
red at each end. It is called " milayeh." In general it is worn 
in the same manner as the habarah, but sometimes like the tarhah. 
The upper part of the black burko' is often ornamented with 
false pearls, small gold coins, and other little flat ornaments of 
the same metal (called "bark"); sometimes with a coral bead, 
and a gold coin beneath ; also with small coins of base silver ; 
and more commonly with a pair of chain tassels, of brass or silver 
(called " 'oyoon "), attached to the corners. A square black silk 
kerchief (called "asbeh"), with a border of red and yellow, is 
bound round the head, doubled diagonally, and tied with a single 
knot behind ; or, instead of this, the tarboosh and faroodeeyeh 

* See Gen. xxiv. 65, anrl Isa. iii. 23. See also 1 Cor. xi. 10, and a marginal note on 
that verse. 



are worn, though by very few women of the lower classes. The 
best kind of shoes worn by the females of the lower orders ai'e 


of red morocco, turned up, but round at the toes. The burko' 
and shoes are most common in Cairo, and are also worn by many 
of the women throughout Lower Egypt ; but in Upper Egypt the 


burko' is very seldom seen, and shoes are scarcely less uncommon. 
To supply the place of the former, when necessary, a portion of 
the tarhah is drawn befoi-e tlie face, so as to conceal nearly all the 


countenance excepting one eye. Many of tlie women of the 
lower orders, even in the metropolis, never conceal their faces. 
Throughout the greater pai't of Egypt the most common dress of 



the women merely consists of the blue shirt, or t6b, and tarhah. 
In the southern parts of Upper Egyjit, chiefly above Akhmeeni, 

[Sketched at Thebes.) 

most of the women envelop themselves in a large piece of dark- 
brown woollen stuff (called a " hulaleeyeh "), wrapping it round 


the body, and attaching the upper parts together over each 
shoulder ; and a piece of the same they use as a tarhah. This 
dull dress, though picturesque, is almost as disguising as the blue 
tinge which, as I have before mentioned, the women in these 
parts of Egypt impart to their lips. Most of the women of the 
lower orders wear a variety of trumpery ornaments, such as ear- 
rings, necklaces, bracelets, etc., and sometimes a nose-ring. De- 
scriptions and engravings of some of these ornaments will be given 
in the Appendix. 

The women of Egypt deem it more incumbent upon them to 
cover the upper and back part of the head than the face, and 
more requisite to conceal the face than most other parts of the 
person. I have often seen in this country women but half covered 
with miserable rags, and several times females in the prime of 
womanhood, and others in more advanced age, with nothing on 
the body but a narrow strip of rag bound round the hips. 



In the rearing and general treatment of their children the Mus- 
lims are chiefly guided by the directions of their Prophet and 
other religious institutors. One of the first duties required to 
be performed on the birth of a child is to pronounce the adan 
(or call to prayer) in the infant's right ear ; and this should be 
done by a male. Some persons also pronounce the ikameh (which 
is nearly the same as the adan) in the left ear. The object of 
each of these ceremonies is to preserve the infant from the influ- 
ence of the ginn, or genii. Another custom, observed with the 
same view, is to say, " In the name of the Prophet and of his 
cousin 'Alee ! " 

It was a custom very common in Egypt, as in other IMuslim 
countries, to consult an astrologer previously to giving a name to 
a child, and to be guided by his choice; but very few persons 
now conform with this old usage. The father makes choice of a 
name for his son, and confers it without any ceremony ; a daughter 


is generally named by her mother. Boys are often named after 
the Prophet (Mohammad, Ahmad, or Mustafa), or some of the 
members of his family ('Alee, Hasan, Hoseyn, etc.), or his eminent 
companions ('Omar, 'Osman, 'Amr, etc.), or some of the jji-oj^hets 
and patriarchs of early times (as Ibraheem, Is-hak, Isma'eel, 
Yaakoob, Moosa, Daood, Suleyman, etc.), or receive a name 
signifying " Servant of God," " Servant of the Compassionate," 
" Servant of the Powerful," etc. ('Abd- Allah, 'Abd-er-Rahman, 
'Abd-el-Kadir). Girls are mostly named after the wives or the 
favourite daughter of the Arabian Prophet, or after others of his 
family (as Khadeegeh, A'isheh, A'm'neh, Fat'meh, Zeyneb), or 
are distinguished by a name implying that they are " beloved," 
" blessed," " precious," etc. (]\Iahboobeh, INIebrookeh, Nefeeseh, 
etc.), or the name of a flower, or of some other pleasing object. 

As the proper name docs not necessarily or generally descend 
from parent to child, per.sons are usually distinguished by one or 
more surnames, of the following kinds : a surname of relation- 
ship ; as, " Aboo-'Alee " (Father of 'Alco), " Ibn-Ahmad " (Son 
of Ahmad), etc. : a surname of honour, or a nickname ; as, 
" Noor-ed-Deen " (The Light of the Religion), " Et-Taweel " (The 
Tall), etc. : an appellation relating to country, birth-place, origin, 
family, sect, trade or occupation, etc. ; as, " Er-Rasheedee " (of 
the town of Rasheed), " Es-Sabb:igh " (The Dyer), " Et-T<igir " 
(The Merchant). The second kind of surname, and that relating 
to country, etc., are often inherited, thus becoming family names. 
Each kind of surname is now generally placed after the proper 

The dress of the children of the middle and higher orders is 
similar to that of the parents, but generally slovenly. The chil- 
dren of the poor are either clad in a shirt and a cotton skull-cap 
or a tarboosh, or (as is mostly the case in the villages) are left 
quite naked until the age of six or seven years or more, unless a 
bit of rag can be easily obtained to serve them as a j^artial cover- 
ing. Those little girls who have only a piece of ragged stuff not 
large enough to cover both the head and body generally prefer 
wearing it upon the head, and sometimes have the coquetry to 
draw a part of it before the face as a veil, while the whole body 
is exposed. Little ladies, four or five yeai's of age, mostly wear 


the white face-veil, like tlieir mothers. "When a boy is two or 
three years old, or often earlier, his head is shaven, a tuft of hair 
only being left on the crown, and another over the forehead \ the 
heads of female infants are seldom shaven.^ The young children, 
of both sexes, are usually carried by their mothers and nurses, not 
in the arms, but on the shoulder, seated astride, and sometimes 
for a short distance on the hip. 

In the treatment of their children, the women of the wealthier 
classes are remarkable for their excessive indulgence ; and the 
poor for the little attention they bestow, beyond supplying the 
absolute wants of nature. The mother is prohibited by the 
Muslim law from weaning her child before the expiration of two 
years from the pei'iod of its birth, unless wuth the consent of her 
liusband, which, I am told, is generally given after the first year 
or eighteen months. In the houses of the wealthy, the child, 
whether boy or girl, remains almost constantly confined in the 
hareem (or the women's apartments), or at least in the house ; 
sometimes the boy continues thus an effeminate prisoner until a 
master, hired to instruct him daily, has taught him to read and 
write. But it is important to observe that an aflfectionatc respect 
for parents and elders inculcated in the hareem fits the boy for an 
abrupt introduction into the Avorld, as will presently be shown. 
When the ladies go out to pay a visit, or to take an airing, 
mounted on asses, the children generally go with them, each 
carried by a female slave or servant, or seated between her knees 
upon the fore part of the saddle ; the female attendants, as well 
as the ladies, being usually borne by asses, and it being the cus- 
tom of all the women to sit astride. But it is seldom that the 
children of the rich enjoy this slight diversion ; their health suffers 
from confinement and pampering, and they are often rendered 
capricious, proud, and selfish. The women of the middle classes 
are scarcely less indulgent mothers. The estimation in which the 
wife is held by her husband, and even by her acquaintance, 
depends, in a great degree, upon her fruitfulness, and upon the 
preservation of her children ; for by men and women, rich and 
poor, barrenness is still considered, in the East, a curse and a 
reproach, and it is regarded as disgraceful in a man to divorce, 
without some cogent reason, a wife who has borne him a child, 


especially while her child is living. If, therefore, a woman desix-e 
her husband's love, or the respect of others, her giving birth to a 
child is a source of great joy to herself and him, and her own 
interest alone is a sufficient motive for maternal tenderness. 
Very little expense is required in Egypt for the maintenance of 
a numerous offspring. 

However much the children are caressed and fondled, in general 
they feel and manifest a most profound and praiseworthy respect 
for their parents. Disobedience to parents is considered by the 
Muslims as one of the greatest of sins, and classed, in point of 
heinousness, with six other sins, which are idolatry, murder, 
falsely accusing modest women of adultery, wasting the property 
of oi'phans, taking usury, and desertion in an expedition against 
infidels. An undutiful child is very seldom heard of among the 
Egy[)tians or the Arabs in general. Among the middle and higher 
classes, the child usually greets the father in the morning by kiss- 
ing his hand, and then stands before him in a humble attitude, 
with the left hand covered by the right, to receive any order, or 
to await his jjermission to depart ; but after the respectful kiss, 
is often taken on the lap : and nearly the same respect is shown 
towards the mother. Other members of the family, according to 
age, relationship, and station, are also similarly regarded by the 
young ; and hence arise that Qase and propriety with which a 
child, emerging from the hareem, conducts himself in every 
society, and that loyalty which is often improperly regarded as 
the result of Eastern despotism. Sons scarcely ever sit or eat 
or smoke in the presence of the father, unless bidden to do so ; 
and they often even wait upon him, and upon his guests, at meals 
and on other occasions. They do not cease to act thus when they 
have become men. I once partook of breakfast with an Egyptian 
mei'chant, before the door of his house, in the month of Ramaddn 
(and therefore a little after sunset), and though every person who 
passed by, however poor, was invited to partake of the meal, we 
were waited upon by two of my host's sons — the elder about forty 
years of age. As they had been fasting during the whole of the 
day, and had as yet only taken a draught of water, I begged the 
father to allow them to sit down and eat with us. He immediately 
told them that they might do so ; but they declined. The mothers 


•V 1 


r.ij:c yi. 


generally enjoy, in a greater degree than the fathers, the affection 
of their children, though they do not I'eceive from them equal 
outward marks of respect. I have often known servants to hoard 
their wages for their mothers, though seldom for their fathers. 

With the exception of those of the wealthier classes, the young- 
children in Egypt, though objects of so much solicitude, are 
generally very dirty, and shabbily clad. The stranger here is dis- 
gusted by the sight of them, and at once condemns the modern 
Egyptians as a very filthy people, without requiring any other 
reason for forming such an opinion of them ; but it is often the 
case that those children who are most petted and beloved are the 
dirtiest and worst clad. It is not uncommon to see, in the city 
in which I am writing, a lady shuffling along in her ample t6b 
and habarah of new and rich and glistening silks, and one who 
scents the whole street with the odour of musk or civet as she 
passes along, with all that appears of her person scrupulously clean 
and delicate, her eyes neatly bordered with kohl applied in the 
most careful manner, and the tip of a finger or two showing the 
fresh dye of the henna, and by her side a little boy or girl, her 
own child, with a face besmeared with dirt, and with clothes 
appearing as though they had been worn for months without 
being washed. Few things surprised me so much as sights of this 
kind on my first arrival in this country. I naturally inquired the 
cause of what struck me as so strange and inconsistent, and 
was informed that the affectionate mothers thus neglected the 
appearance of their children, and purposely left them unwashed, 
and clothed them so shabbily, particularly when they had to take 
them out in ^mXAxc, fror)i fear of the evil eye, which is excessively 
dreaded, and especially in the case of children, since they are 
generally esteemed the greatest of blessings, and therefore most 
likely to be coveted. It is partly for the same reason that many 
of them confine their boys so long in the hareem. Some mothers 
even dress their young sons as girls, because the latter are less 
obnoxious to envy. 

The children of the poor have a yet more neglected a2:)pear- 
ance. Besides being very scantily clad, or quite naked, they are, 
in general, excessively dirty. Their eyes are frequently extremely 
filthy : it is common to see half-a-dozen or more flies in each eye, 


unheeded and unmolested. The parents consider it extremely 
injurious to wash, or even touch, the eyes when they discharge 
that acrid humour which attracts the flies ; they even affirm that 
the loss of siglit would result from frequently touching or washing 
them when thus affected, though washing is really one of the best 
means of alleviating the complaint 

At the age of about five or six years, or sometimes later, the 
boy is circumcised. Previously to the performance of this rite 
in the metropolis and other towns of Egypt, the parents of the 
youth, if not in indigent circumstances, generally cause him to be 
paraded through several streets in the neighbourhood of their 
dwelling. They mostly avail themselves of the occurrence of a 
bridal pi'ocession, to lessen the expenses of the pai-ade ; and, in 
this case, the boy and his attendants lead the procession. He 
generally wears a red Kashmeer turban, but in other respects is 
dressed as a girl, with a yelek and saltah, and with a kurs, safa, 
and other female ornaments, to attract the eye, and so divert it 
from his person. These articles of dress are of the richest de- 
scription that can be procured ; they are usually borrowed from 
some lady, and much too large to fit the boy. A horse, hand- 
somely caparisoned, is also borrowed to convey him ; and in his 
hand is placed a folded embroidered handkerchief, which he con- 
stantly holds before his mouth in his right hand, to hide part of 
his face, and thus protect himself from the evil eye. He is pre- 
ceded by a servant of the barber, who is the operator, and by 
three or more musicians, whose instruments are commonly a haut- 
boy and drums. The foremost person in the procession is gen- 
erally the barber's servant, bearing his " heml," which is a case 
of wood, of a semi-cylindrical form, with four short legs ; its 
front (the flat surface) covered with pieces of looking-glass and 
embossed brass, and its back with a curtain. This is merely the 
barber's sign : the servant carries it in the manner represented 
in the engraving here inserted. The musicians follow next (or 
some of them precede the heml) ; and then follows the boy, his 
horse led by a groom. Behind him walk several of his female 
relations and friends. Two boys are often paraded together, and 
sometimes borne by one horse. Of the bridal processions, with 
which that above described is so often united, an account will be 



found in tlie proper jDlace. A description, also, of some further cus- 
toms observed on the occasion of a circumcision, and particularly of 
a more genteel but less general mode of celebrating that event, will 
be given in another chapter, relating to various private festivities. 


The parents seldom devote much of their time or attention to 
the intellectual education of their children, generally contenting 
themselves with instilling into their young minds a few principles 
of religion, and then submitting them, if they can afford to do so, 
to the instruction of a schoolmaster. As early as possible the 


child is taught to say, "I testify that there is no deity but God; 
and I testify tliat Mohammad is God's Apostle." He receives 
also lessons of religious pride, and learns to hate the Christians, 
and all other sects but his own, as thoroughly as does the Muslim 
in advanced age. Most of the children of the higher and middle 
classes, and some of those of the lower orders, are taught by the 
schoolmaster to read and to recite and chant the whole or certain 
portions of the Kur-;in by memory. They afterwards learn the 
most common rules of ainthmetic. 

Schools are very numerous, not only in the metropolis, but in 
every large town, and there is one, at least, in every considerable 
village. Almost every mosque, "sebeel" (or public fountain), 
and " h6d " (or drinking-place for cattle) in the metropolis has a 
"kutt4b" (or school) attached to it, in which children are in- 
structed for a very trifling expense; the "sheykh" or "fikee" 
(the master of the school) receiving from the parent of each pupil 
half a piaster (about five farthings of our money), or something 
more or less, every Thursday. The master of a school attached 
to a mosque or other public building in Cairo also generally re- 
ceives yearly a tarboosh, a piece of white muslin for a turban, a 
piece of linen, and a pair of shoes ; and each boy receives, at the 
same time, a linen skull-cap, four or five cubits of cotton cloth, 
and perhaps half a piece (ten or twelve cubits) of linen, and a 
pair of shoes, and in some cases half a piaster or a piaster. 
These pi-esents are supi:)lied l)y funds bequeathed to the school, 
and are given in the month of Ramadan. The boys attend only 
during the hours of instruction, and then return to their homes. 
The lessons are generally written upon tablets of wood, painted 
white ; and when one lesson is learned, the tablet is washed and 
another is written. They also pi-actise writing upon the same 
tablet. The schoolmaster and his pupils sit upon the ground, 
and each boy has his tablet in his hands, or a copy of the Kur-dn, 
or of one of its thirty sections, on a little kind of desk of palm- 
sticks. All who are learning to read, recite or chant their lessons 
aloud, at the same time rocking their heads or bodies incessantly 
backwards and forwards ; which practice is observed by almost 
all persons in reciting the Kur-dn, being thought to assist the 
memory. The noise may be imagined. 


The boys first learn the letters of the alphabet ; next, the 
vowel -points and other orthographical marks ; and then the 
numerical value of each letter of the alphabet. Previously to this 
third stage of the pupil's progress, it is customary for the master 
to ornament the tablet with black and red ink and green paint, 
and to write upon it the letters of the alphabet in the order of 
their respective numerical values, and convey it to the father, who 
returns it with a piaster or two placed upon it. The like is also 
done at several subsequent stages of the boy's progress, as when 
he begins to learn the Kur-4n, and six or seven times as he 
proceeds in learning the sacred book ; each time the next lesson 
being wi'itten on the tablet. When he has become acquainted 
with the numerical values of the letters, the master writes for him 
some simple woi'ds, as the names of men ; then the ninety-nine 
names or epithets of God ; next, the Fat'hah, or opening chapter 
of the Kur-an, is written upon his tablet, and he reads it re- 
peatedly until he has perfectly committed it to memory. He then 
proceeds to learn the other chapters of the Kur-4n : after the 
first chapter he learns the last ; then the last but one ; next, the 
last but two ; and so on, in inverted order, ending with the second, 
as the chapters in general successively decrease in length from the 
second to the last inclusively. It is seldom that the master of a 
school teaches writing, and few boys learn to write unless destined 
for some employment which absolutely requires that they should 
do so ; in which latter case they are generally taught the art of 
writing, and likewise arithmetic, by a " kabbdnee," who is a per- 
son employed to weigh goods in a market or bAzAr with the steel- 
yard. Those who are to devote themselves to religion, or to any 
of the learned professions, mostly pursue a regular course of study 
in the great mosque El-Azhar. 

The schoolmasters in Egypt are mostly persons of very little 
learning. Few of them are acquainted with any writings except 
the Kur-4n and certain prayers, which, as well as the contents of 
the sacred volume, they are hired to recite on particular occasions. 
I was lately told of a man who could neither read nor write 
succeeding to the oflSce of a schoolmaster in my neighbourhood. 
Being able to recite the whole of the Kur-dn, he could hear the 
boys repeat their lessons ; to write them, he employed the 


" 'areef " (or head boy and monitor in the school), pretending 
that his eyes were weak. A few days after he had taken upon 
himself this office, a poor woman brought a letter for liim to read 
to her from her son, who had gone on pilgrimage. The fikee 
pretended to read it, but said nothing ; and the woman, inferring 
from his silence that the letter contained bad news, said to him, 
"Shall I shriek?" He answered, "Yes." "Shall I tear my 
clothes'?" she asked. He replied, "Yes." So the poor woman 
returned to her house, and with her assembled friends performed 
the lamentation and other ceremonies usual on the occasion of a 
death. Kot many days after this her son arrived, and she asked 
him what he could mean by causing a letter to be written stating 
that he was dead. He explained the contents of the letter ; and 
she went to the schoolmaster and begged him to inform her why 
he had told her to shriek and to tear her clothes, since the letter 
was to inform her that her son was well, and he was now arrived 
at home. Not at all abashed, he said, " God knows futurity ! 
How could I know that your son would arrive in safety? It was 
better that you should think him dead than be led to expect to 
see him and perhaps be disappointed." Some persons who were 
sitting with him praised his wisdom, exclaiming, " Truly, our new 
fikee is a man of unusual judgment ! " and for a little while he 
found that he had raised his reputation by this blunder.*' 

Some parents employ a sheykh or fikee to teach their boys 
at home. The father usually teaches his son to perform the 
" wudo6 " and other ablutions, and to say his prayers, and instructs 
him in other religious and moral duties to the best of his ability. 
The Prophet directed his followers to order their children to say 
their prayers when seven years of age, and to beat them if they 
did not do so when ten years old ; and at the latter age to make 
them sleep in separate beds. In Egypt, however, very few persons 
pray before they have attained to manhood. 

The female children arc very seldom taught to read or write ; 
and not many of them, even among the higher orders, learn to 
say their prayers. Some of the rich engage a "sheykhah" (or 
learned woman) to visit the hareem daily, to teach their daughters 
and female slaves to say their prayers, and to recite a few chaj^ters 
of the Kur-an, and sometimes to instruct them in reading and 


writing ; but these are very rare accomplishments for females, 
even of the highest class in Egypt. There are many schools in 
which girls are taught plain needlework, embroidery, etc. In 
families in easy circumstances a "m'allimeh," or female teacher of 
such kinds of work, is often engaged to attend the girls at their 
own home. 



As the most important branch of their education, and the main 
foundation of their manners and customs, the religion and laws 
of the people who are the subject of these pages must be well 
understood — not only in their general principles, but in many 
minor points — before we can proceed to consider their social con- 
dition and habits in the state of manhood. 

A difference of opinion among Muslims, respecting some 
points of religion and law, has given rise to four sects, which 
consider each other orthodox as to fundamental matters, and call 
themselves " Sunnees," or followers of the traditions ; while they 
designate all other Muslims by the term " Shiya'ees," signifying, 
according to their acceptation, "heretics." The Sunnees alone 
are the class which we have to consider. The four sects into 
which they are divided are the " Hanafees," " Shafe'ees," " MAli- 
kees," and " Hambel'ees " — so called from the names of the re- 
spective doctors whose tenets they have adopted. The Turks are 
of the first sect, which is the most reasonable. The inhabitants 
of Cairo, a small proportion excepted (who are Hanafees), are 
either Shafe'ees or Malikees — and it is generally said that they 
are mostly of the former of these sects, as are also the people 
of Arabia ; those of the Sharkeeyeh, on the east of the Delta, 
Shafe'ees ; those of the Garbeeyeh, or Delta, Shafe'ees, with a 
few Malikees ; those of the Boheyreh, on the west of the Delta, 
M41ikees. The inhabitants of the Sa'eed, or the valley of Upper 
Egypt, are likewise, with few exceptions, Malikees ; so also ax-e 
the Nuljians and the Western Arabs. To the fourth sect very 
few persons in the present day belong. All these sects agi^ee in 


deriving their code of religion and law from four sources — namely, 
the Kur-iin, the traditions of the Prophet, the concordance of his 
early disciples, and analogy. 

The religion which Mohammad taught is generally called by 
the Arabs " El-Islam." " Eemdn " and " Deen " are the particular 
terms applied, respectively, to faith and practical religion. 

The grand principles of the faith are expressed in two articles, 
the first of which is this — 

" There is no deity but God." 

God, who created all things in heaven and in earth, who 
preserveth all things, and decreeth all things, who is without 
beginning and without end, omnipotent, omniscient, and omni- 
present, is 07ie. His unity is thus declared in a short chapter of 
the Kur-an : " Say, he is God ; one [God]. God is the Eternal. 
He begetteth not, nor is he begotten ; and there is none equal 
unto him." He hath no partner, nor any ofi"spring, in the creed 
of the Muslim. Though Jesus Christ (whose name should not 
be mentioned without adding, " on whom be peace ") is believed 
to have been born of a pure virgin, by the miraculous operation 
of God, without any natui'al father, to be the jNIessiah, and " the 
Word of God, which he transmitted unto Mary, and a Spirit 
[proceeding] from him," yet lie is not called the Son of God, and 
no higher titles are given to him than those of a Prophet and 
Apostle ; he is even considered of inferior dignity to ]\Ioham- 
mad, inasmuch as the gospel is held to be superseded by the 
Kur-dn, The Muslim believes that Seyyidna 'Eesa (or " our Lord 
Jesus"), after he had fulfilled the object of his mission, was 
taken up unto God from the Jews, who sought to slay him, and 
that another person, on whom God had stamped the likeness of 
Christ, was crucified in his stead. He also believes that Christ 
is to come again upon the earth, to establish the Muslim religion 
and perfect peace and security, after having killed Antichrist, and 
to be a sign of the approach of the last day. 

The other grand article of the faith, wliich cannot be believed 
without the former, is this — • 

" Mohammad is God's Aj)ostIe." 

Mohammad is believed by his followers to have been the last 
and greatest of prophets and apostles. Six of these — namely, 


Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses, Jesus, and Mohammad — are 
believed each to have received a revealed law, or system of re- 
ligion and morality. That, however, which was revealed to Adam 
was abrogated by the next ; and each succeeding law, or code of 
laws, abrogated the preceding, though all are believed to have 
been the same in every essential point. Therefore, those who 
professed the Jewish religion from the time of Moses to that of 
Jesus were true believers, and those who professed the Christian 
religion (uncorrupted, as the Muslims say, by the tenet that Christ 
was the ^ion of God) until the time of Mohammad are held, in 
like manner, to have been true believers. But the copies of the 
Pentateuch, the Psalms of David (which the Muslims also hold 
to be of divine origin), and the Gospels now existing, are believed 
to have been so much altered as to contain very little of the true 
word of God. The Kur-dn is believed to have suffered no altera- 
tion whatever. 

It is further necessary that the Muslim should believe in the 
existence of angels, and of good and evil genii — the evil genii 
being devils, whose chief is Iblees ; also in the immortality of 
the soul, the general resurrection and judgment, in future rewards 
and punishments in paradise and hell, in the balance in which 
good and evil works shall be weighed, and in the bridge " Es- 
Sinit" (which extends over the midst of hell, finer than a hair and 
sharper than the edge of a sword), over which all must pass, and 
from which the wicked shall fall into hell. He believes, also, that 
they who have acknowledged the faith of El-Islam and yet acted 
wickedly will not remain in hell for ever, but that all of other 
religions must ; that there are, however, degrees of punishments as 
well as of rewards — the former consisting in severe torture by 
excessive heat and cold ; and the latter, partly in the indulgence 
of the appetites by most delicious meats and drinks, and in the 
pleasures afforded by the company of the girls of paradise, whose 
eyes will be very large and entirely black, and whose stature will 
be proportioned to that of the men, which will be the height of 
a tall palm tree, or about sixty feet. Such, the Muslims generally 
believe, was the height of our first parents. It is said that the 
souls of martyrs reside, until the judgment, in the crops of green 
birds, which eat of the fruits of paradise and drink of its rivers. 


Women are not to be excluded from paradise, according to the 
faith of El-Islam, though it has been asserted by many Chris- 
tians that the Muslims believe women to have no souls. In 
several places in the Kur-an pai-adise is promised to all true 
believers, whether males or females. It is the doctrine of the 
Kur-an that no person will be admitted into paradise by his own 
merits, but that admission will be granted to the believers merely 
by the mercy of God, on account of their faith, yet that the 
felicity of each person will be proportioned to his good works. 
The very meanest in paradise is promised " eighty thousand serv- 
ants" (beautiful youths, called "weleeds"), "seventy-two wives 
of the girls of paradise" (" hooreeyehs "), "besides the wives he 
had in this world," if he desire to have the latter (and the good 
will doubtless desire the good), "and a tent erected for him of 
pearls, jacinths, and emeralds, of a very large extent ; " " and will 
be waited on by three hundred attendants while he eats, and 
served in dishes of gold, wher(!of three hundred shall be set before 
him at once, each containing a different kind of food, the last 
morsel of which will be as grateful as the first." Wine, also, 
"though foi'bidden in this life, will yet be freely allowed to be 
drunk in the next, and without danger, since the wine of paradise 
will not inebriate." We are further told that all superfluities 
from the bodies of the inhabitants of paradise will be carried oft" 
by perspiration, which will diffuse an odour like that of musk : 
and that they will be clothed in the richest silks, chiefly of green. 
They are also promised perpetual youth, and children as many as 
they may desire. These pleasures, together with the songs of the 
angel Israfeel, and many other gratifications of the senses, will 
chann even the meanest inhabitant of paradise. But all these 
enjoyments will be lightly esteemed by those more blessed persons 
who are to be admitted to the highest of all honours — that spiritual 
pleasure of beholding, morning and evening, the face of God. 
The Muslim must also believe in the examination of the dead 
in the sepulchre by two angels, called Munkar and Nekeer, of 
terrible aspect, who will cause the body (to which the soul shall, 
for the time, be re-united) to sit upriglit in the grave, and will 
question the deceased respecting his faith. The wicked they will 
severely torture, but the good they will not hui-t. Lastly, he 


should believe in God's absolute decree of every event, both good 
and evil. This doctrine has given rise to as much controversy 
among the Muslims as among Christians, but the former, gener- 
ally, believe in predestination as, in some respects, conditional. 

The most important duties enjoined in the ritual and moral 
laws are 2}')'(tyer, alms-giving, fasting, and jnlgrimage. 

The religious puri/ications, which are of two kinds — first, the 
ordinary ablution preparatory to proger ; and secondly, the wash- 
ing of the whole body, together with the performance of the former 
ablution — are of primary importance ; for prayer, which is a duty 
so important that it is called " the Key of Paradise," will not be 
accepted from a person in a state of uncleanness. It is therefore 
also necessary to avoid impurity by clipping the nails, and other 
similar practices. 

There are partial washings, or purifications, which all Muslims 
perform on certain occasions, even if they neglect their prayers, 
and which are considered as religious acts. The ablution called 
" el-wudo6," which is preparatory to prayer, I shall now describe. 
The purifications just before alluded to are a part of the wudo6 ; 
the other washings are not, of necessity, to be performed immedi- 
ately after, but only when the person is about to say his prayers, 
and these are performed in the mosque or in the house, in 
public or in private. There is in every mosque a tank (called 
" meydaah ") or a " hanafeeyeh," which is a raised reservoir, with 
spouts round it, from which the water falls. In some mosques 
there are both these. The IMuslims of the Hanafee sect (of which 
are the Turks) perform the ablution at the latter (which has re- 
ceived its name from that cause) ; for they must do it with run- 
ning water, or from a tank or pool at least ten cubits in breadth, 
and the same in depth, and T believe that there is only one 
meydaah in Cairo of that depth, which is in the great mosque 
El-Azhar. A small hanafeeyeh of tinned copper, placed on a low 
shelf, and a large basin, or a small ewer and basin of the same 
metal, are generally used in the hovisc for the performance of the 

The person, having tucked up his sleeves a little higher than 
his elbows, says in a low voice, or inaudibly, " I purpose per- 
forming the wudo6 for prayer." He then washes his hands 

(440) 6 


three times, saying, in the same manner as before, " In the name 
of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful ! Praise be to God, 
who hath sent down water for purification, and made El-Islam 
to be a light and a conductor, and a guide to thy gardens, the 
gardens of delight, and to thy mansion, the mansion of peace." 
Then he rinses his mouth three times, throwing the water into 
it with his right hand ; and in doing this he says, " O God, 
assist me in the reading of thy book, and in commemorating 
thee, and in thanking thee, and in worshipping thee well ! " 
Next, with his right hand he throws water up his nostrils 
(snuffing it up at the same time), and then blows it out, com- 
pressing his nostrils with the thumb and finger of the left hand ; 
and this also is done three times. While doing it, he says, " O 
God, make me to smell the odours of paradise, and bless me 
with its delights ; and make me not to smell the smell of the 
fires [of hell]." He then washes his face three times, throwing 
up the water with both hands, and saying, " O God, whiten my 
face with thy light on the day when thou shalt whiten the 
faces of thy favourites ; and do not blacken my face on the day 
when thou shalt blacken the faces of thine enemies." " His right 
hand and arm, as high as the elbow, he next washes three times, 
and as many times causes some water to run along his arm, 
from the palm of the hand to the elbow, saying as he does this, 
"O God, give me my book in my right hand;^ and reckon with 
me with an easy reckoning." In the same manner he washes the 
left hand and arm, saying, " O God, do not give me my book in 
my left hand, nor behind my back ; and do not reckon with me 
with a dilhcult reckoning, nor make me to be one of the people 
of the fire." He next draws his wetted right hand over the 
upper part of his head, raising his turban or cap with his left. 
This he does but once, and he accompanies the action with this 
supplication : " O God, cover me with thy mercy, and pour down 
thy blessing upon me ; and shade me under the shadow of thy 
canopy on the day when there shall be no shade but its shade." 
If he have a beard, he then combs it with the wetted fingers of 
his right hand, holding his hand with the palm forwards, and 
passing the fingers through his beard from the throat upwards. 
He then puts the tips of his fore-fingers into his ears, and twists 


tliem round, passing his thumbs at the same time round the back 
of the ears, from the bottom upwards, and saying, " O God, 
make me to be of those wlio hear what is said, and obey what is 
best;" or, " God, make me to hear good." Next he wipes his 
neck with the back of the fingers of both hands, making the ends 
of his fingers meet beliind his neck, and then drawing them for- 
ward ; and in doing so he says, " O God, free my neck from the 
fire ; and keep me from the chains, and the collars, and the 
fetters." Lastly, he washes his feet as high as the ankles, and 
passes his fingers between the toes. He washes the right foot 
first, saying, at the same time, " O God, make firm my feet upon 
the Sirat on the day when feet shall slip upon it." On washing 
the left foot, he says, " O God, make my labour to be approved, 
and my sin forgiven, and my works accepted, merchandise that 
shall not perish, by thy pardon, O Mighty ! O very Forgiving ! 
1 ly thy mercy, O most Merciful of those who show mercy ! " 
xlfter having thus completed the ablution, he says, looking to- 
wards heaven, " Thy perfection, O God ! [I extol] with thy 
praise. I testify that there is no deity but thou alone ; thou hast 
no companion. I implore thy forgiveness, and turn to thee with 
repentance." Then looking towards the earth, he adds, " I testify 
that there is no deity but God ; and I testify that Mohammad is 
liis servant and his apostle." Having uttered these words, he 
should recite, once, twice, or three times, the " Soorat el-Kad)-," 
or 97th chapter of the Kur-an. 

The wudo6 is generally performed in less than two minutes, 
most ])ersons hurrying through the act, as well as omitting almost 
all the prayers, etc., which should accompany and follow the 
actions. It is not required before each of the five daily prayers, 
when the person is conscious of having avoided every kind of 
impurity since the last performance of this ablution. "When water 
cannot be easily procured, or would be injurious to the health of 
the individual, he may pei'form the ablution with dust or sand. 
This ceremony is called "tayemmum." The person, in this case, 
strikes the palms of his hands upon any dry dust or sand (it "vvill 
suffice to do so upon his cloth robe, as it must contain some 
dust), and with both hands wipes his face ; then, having struck 
his hands again upon the dust, he wipes his riglit hand and arm 


as high as the elbow ; and then the left hand and arm in the 
same manner. This completes the ceremony. The washing of 
the whole body is often performed merely for the sake of cleanli- 
ness, but not as a religious act, excepting on particular occasions — 
as on the morning of Friday, and on the two grand festivals, etc., 
when it is called " ghusl." 

Cleanliness is required not only in the worshipper, but also in 
the ground, mat, carpet, robe, or whatever else it be, upon which 
he prays. Persons of the lower orders often pray upon the bare 
ground, which is considered clean if it be dry ; and they seldom 
wipe off immediately the dust which adheres to the nose and 
forehead in prostration, for it is regarded as ornamental to the 
believer's face ; but when a person has a cloak or any other 
garment that he can take off without exposing his person in an 
unbecoming manner, he spreads it upon tlie ground to serve as a 
prayer-carpet. The rich use a prayer-carpet (called " seggadeh ") 
about the size of a %vide hearth-rug, having a niche represented 
upon it, the point of wliicli is turned towards Mekkeh. It is 
reckoned sinful to pass near before a pci'son engaged in prayer. 

Prayer is called "salah." Five times in the course of every 
day is its performance required of the Muslim ; but there are 
comparatively few per.sons in Egypt who do not sometimes, or 
often, neglect this duty, and many who scarcely ever pray. 
Certain portions of the ordinary prayers are called " fard," which 
are appointed by the Kur-an ; and others, " sunneh," which are 
appointed by the Prophet, without allegation of a divine order. 

The first time of prayer commences at the " maghrib," or 
sunset, or rather about four minutes later ; the second, at the 
" 'eshe," or nightfall, when the evening has closed and it is quite 
dark; the third, at the " subh " or " f egr " — that is, daybreak; 
the fourth, at the " duhr," or noon, or rather a little later, when 
the sun has begun to decline ; the fifth, at the " 'asr," or after- 
noon — that is, about mid-time between noon and nightfall. Each 
period of pi'ayer ends when the next commences, excepting that 
of daybreak, wliich ends at sunrise. The Prophet would not have 
his followers commence their prayers at sunrise, nor exactly at 
noon or sunset, because, he said, infidels worshipped the sun at 
such times. 



Should the time of prayer arrive when they are eating, or 
about to eat, they are not to rise to prayer till they have finished 
their meal. The prayers should be said as nearly as possible at 
the commencement of the periods above mentioned ; they may be 
said after, but not before. The several times of prayer are an- 
nounced by the " mueddin " of each mosque. Having ascended 
to the gallery of the " mad'neh," or menaret, he chants the 
" adan," or call to prayer, which is as follows :— " God is most 
Great ! " (this is said four times). " I testify that there is no 
deity but God!" (twice). "I testify that Mohammad is God's 
Apostle ! " (twice). " Come to prayer ! " (twice). " Come to 
security ! " (twice). " God is most Great ! " (twice). " There is 
no deity but God ! " Most of the mueddins of Cairo have har- 
monious and sonorous voices, which they strain to the utmost 
pitch; yet there is a simple and solemn melody in their chants 
which is very striking, particularly in the stillness of night. 
Blind men are generally preferred for the office of mueddins, 
that the hareems and terraces of surrounding houses may not be 
overlooked from the mad'nehs. 

Two other calls to prayer are made during the night, to rouse 
those persons who desire to perform supererogatory acts of devo- 
tion. A little after midnight, the mueddins of the great royal 
mosques in Cairo (that is, of each of the great mosques founded by 
a Sultan, which is called " Game' Sultanee "), and of some other 
large mosques, ascend the mad'nehs and chant the following call, 
which, being one of the two night-calls not at the regular periods 
of obligatory prayers, is called the " Oola," a term signifying 
merely the " First." Having commenced by chanting the com- 
mon adan, with those words which are introduced in the call to 
morning-prayer (" Prayer is better than sleep "), he adds, " There 
is no deity but God " (three times) " alone : he hath no com- 
panion : to him belongeth the dominion ; and to him belongeth 
praise. He giveth life, and causeth death ; and he is living, and 
shall never die. In his hand is blessing [or good] ; and he is 
Almighty. — There is no deity but God!" (three times) " and we 
will not worship any beside him, ' serving him with sincerity of 
religion,' ' though the infidels be averse ' [thereto]. There is 
no deity but God ! Mohammad is the most noble of the creation 


in the sight of God. Mohammad is the best prophet that hath 
been sent, and a lord by whom his companions became lords ; 
comely, liberal of gifts, perfect, pleasant to the taste, sweet, soft 
to the throat [or to be drunk]. Pardon, O Lord, thy servant 
and thy poor dependant, the endower of this place, and him who 
watcheth it with goodness and beneficence, and its neighbours, 
and those who frequent it at the times of prayers and good acts, 
O thou Bountiful! — O Lord!" (three times). "Thou art he 
who ceaseth not to be distinguished by mercy : thou art liberal of 
thy clemency towards the rebellious, and protectest him ; and 
concealest what is foul, and makest manifest every virtuous 
action ; and thou bestowest tliy beneficence upon the servant, and 
comfortest him, O thou Bountiful ! — O Lord ! " (three times). 
" My sins, when I think upon them, [I see to be] many ; but the 
mercy of my Lord is more abundant than are my sins : I am not 
solicitous on account of good that I have done ; but for the mercy 
of God I am most solicitous. Extolled be the Everlasting ! He 
hath no companion in his great dominion. His perfection [I ex- 
tol]: exalted be his name : [I extol] the perfection of God." 

About an hour before daybreak the mueddins of most mosques 
chant the second call named the " Ebed," and so called from the 
occurrence of that word near the commencement. This call is 
as follows : — " [I extol] the perfection of God, the Existing for 
ever and ever " (three times) : "' the perfection of God, the 
Desired, the Existing, the Single, the Supreme : the perfection of 
God, the One, the Sole : the perfection of liim who taketh to 
himself, in his great dominion, neither female companion, nor 
male partner, nor any like unto him, nor any that is disobedient 
nor any deputy, nor any equal, nor any offspring. His perfection 
[I extol] : and exalted be his name ! He is a Deity who knew 
what hath been before it was, and called into existence what hath 
been ; and he is now existing as he was [at the first]. His per- 
fection [I extol] : and exalted be his name ! He is a Deity unto 
whom there is none like existing. There is none like unto God, 
the Bountiful, existing. There is none like unto God, the Cle- 
ment, existing. There is none like unto God, the Great, existing. 
And there is no deity but thou, O our Lord, to be worshipped, and 
to be praised, and to be desired, and to be glorified. [I extol] 


the perfection of him who created all creatures, and numbered 
them, and distributed their sustenance, and decreed the terms of 
the lives of his servants : and our Loixl, the Bountiful, the Cle- 
ment, the Great, forgetteth not one of them. [I extol] the perfec- 
tion of him who, of his power and greatness, caused the pure 
water to flow from the solid stone, the mass of rock : the perfec- 
tion of him who spake Avith our lord Moosa [or Moses] upon the 
mountain ; whereupon the mountain was reduced to dust, through 
dread of God, whose name be exalted, the One, the Sole. There 
is no deity but God. He is a just Judge. [I extol] the perfec- 
tion of the First. Blessing and peace be on thee, O comely of 
countenance ! O Apostle of God ! Blessing and peace be on 
thee, O first of the creatures of God ! and seal of the apostles of 
God ! Blessing and peace be on thee, O thou Prophet ! on thee 
and on thy family, and all thy companions. God is most Great ! 
God is most Great !" etc., to the end of the call to morning- 
prayer. " O God, favour and preserve and bless the blessed 
Prophet, our lord Mohammad ! And may God, whose name be 
blessed and exalted, be well pleased with thee, O our lord El- 
Hasan, and with thee, O our lord El-Hoseyn, and with thee, O 
Aboo-Farrag, O Sheykh of the Arabs, and with all the favourites 
[the " welees "] of God. Amen." 

The j^rayers which are jierformed daily at the five periods be- 
fore mentioned are said to be of so many " rek'ahs," or inclinations 
of the head. 

The worshipper, standing with liis face towards the Kibleh 
(that is, towards Mekkeh), and his feet not quite close together, 
says, inaudibly, that he has purposed to recite the prayers of so 
many rek'ahs (sunneh or fard) the morning-prayers (or the noon, 
etc.) of the present day (or night); and then, raising his open 
hands on each side of his face, and touching the lobes of his ears 
with the ends of his thumbs, he says, " God is most Great ! " 
("Allahu Akbar,") This ejaculation is called the "tekbeer." He 
then proceeds to recite the prayers of the prescribed number of 
rek'ahs, thus : — 

Still standing, and placing his hands before him, a little below 
his girdle, the left within the right, he recites (with his eyes 
directed towards the spot where his head will touch the ground 



in prostration) the Fat'hali, or opening chapter of the Kur-an, and 
after it three or more other verses, or one of the shoi't chapiters, 
of the Kur-an — ^very commonly the 112th chapter- — but witliout 
repeating the bismillah ("In the name of God," etc.) before the 
second recitation. He then says, " God is most Great ! " and 
makes, at the same time, an inclination of his head and body, 
placing his hands vi^on. his knees, and separating his fingers a 
little. In this posture he says, " [I extol] the perfection of my 
Lord, the Great!" (three times); adding, "May God hear him 
who praiseth him. Our Lord, praise be unto thee !" Then, 


I'aising his head and body, he repeats, " God is most Great I" 
He next drops gently upon his knees, and saying again, " God is 
most Great !" places his hands upon the ground, a little before 
his knees, and puts his nose and forehead also to the ground (the 
former first), between his two hands. During this prostration he 
says, " [I extol] the jierf ection of my Lord, the Most High ! " 
(three times). He raises his head and body (but his knees 
remain upon the ground), sinks backwards upon his heels, and 
places his hands upon his thighs, saying at the same time, " God 
is most Great !" and this he repeats as he bends his head a second 



time to the ground. During this second prostration he repeats 
tlie same words as in the first, and in raising liis head again he 
utters the tekbeer as before. Thus are completed the prayers of one 
rek'ah. In all the changes of posture, the toes of the right foot 
must not be moved from the spot where they were first placed, 
and the left foot should be moved as little as possible. 

Having finished the prayers of one rek'ah, the worshipper rises 
upon his feet (but without moving his toes from the spot where 
they were, particularly those of the right foot), and repeats the 
same ; only he should recite some other chapter, or portion, after 


the Fathah, than that which he repeated before, as, for instance, 
the 108th chapter. 

After every second rek'ah (and after the last^ though there be 
an odd number, as in the evening fard), he does not immediately 
raise his knees from the ground, but bends his left foot under 
him, and sits upon it, and places his hands upon his thighs, Avith 
the fingers a little apart. In this posture he says, " Praises are 
to God, and prayers, and good works. Peace be on thee, O 
Prophet, and the mercy of God, and his blessings ! Peace be on 
us, and on [all] the righteous worshippers of God !" Then raising 


the first finger of the right hand (but not the hand itself), he 
adds, " I testify that thei-e is no deity but God ; and I testify 
that Mohammad is his servant and his apostle." 

After the last rek'ah of each of the prayers (that is, after the 
sunneh prayers and the fai'd alike), after saying, " Praises are to 
God," etc., the worshipper, looking upon his right shoulder, says, 
" Peace be on you, and the mercy of God ! " Then looking upon 
the left, he repeats the same. These salutations ai'e considered 
by some as addressed only to the guardian angels who watch over 
the believer and note all his actions ; but others say that they 
are addressed both to angels and men (that is, believers only), 
who may be present : no person, however, returns them. Before 
the salutations in the last prayer, the worshipper may offer u]} any 
short petition (in Scriptural language rather than his own) ; while 
he does so, looking at the palms of his two hands, which he holds 
like an open book before him, and then draws over his face, from 
the forehead downwards. 

Having finished both the sunneh and fard prayers, the wor- 
shipper, if he would acquit himself completely, or rather, perform 
supererogatory acts, remains sitting (but may then sit more at his 
ease), and recites the " A'yet el-Kursee," or Throne- Verse, which 
is the 256th of the 2nd chapter of the Kur-an ; and adds, " O 
High ! O Great ! Thy perfection [I extol]." He then repeats, 
"The perfection of God!" (thirty-three times). "The perfection 
of God, the Great, with his praise for ever!" (once). "Praise 
be to God!" (thirty -three times). "Extolled be his dignity! 
There is no deity but he ! " (once). " God is most Great ! " 
(thirty-three times). " God is most Great in greatness, and praise 
be to God in abundance !" (once). He counts these repetitions 
with a string of beads called " sebhah " (more properly " sub- 
hah "). The beads are ninety-nine, and have a mark between each 
thirty-three. They ai-e of aloes or other odoriferous or precious 
wood, or of coral, or of certain fruit-stones or seeds, etc. 

Any wandering of the eyes or of the mind, a coughing or the 
like, answering a question, or any action not prescribed to be per- 
formed, must be strictly avoided (unless it be hetiveen the sunneh 
prayers and the fard, or be difiicult to avoid, for it is held allow- 
able to make three slight irregular motions, or deviations, from 


f'asre Q3. 


correct deportment); otherwise the worsliipper must begin again, 
and repeat his prayers with due reverence. It is considered ex- 
tremely sinful to interrupt a man when engaged in his devotions. 
The time usually occupied in repeating the prayers of four rek'ahs, 
without the supererogatory additions, is less than four, or even 
three, minutes. The Muslim says the five daily prayers in his 
house or shop or in the mosque, according as may be most con- 
venient to him. It is seldom that a person goes from his house 
to the mosque to pray excepting to join the congregation on Fri- 
day. Men of the lower orders oftener pray in the mosques than 
those who have a comfortable home and a mat or carpet upon 
which to pi'ay. 

The same prayers are said by the congregation in the mosque 
on the noon of Friday, but there are additional rites performed 
by the Imam and other ministers on this occasion. The chief 
reasons for fixing upon Friday as the Sablmth of the Muslims 
were, it is said, because Adam was created on that day, and died 
on the same day of the week, and because the general resurrec- 
tion was prophesied to happen on that day ; whence, particularly, 
Friday was named the day of " El-Gum'ah " (or the assembly). 
The Muslim does not abstain from worldly business on Friday, 
excepting during the time of prayer, according to the precept of 
the Kui'-an, ch. Ixii., ver. 9 and 10. 

To form a proper conception of the ceremonials of the Friday 
prayers, it is necessary to have some idea of the interior of a 
mosque. A mosque in which a congregation assembles to per- 
form the Friday prayers is called " game'. " The mosques of Cairo 
are so numerous that none of them is inconveniently crowded on 
the Friday, and some of them are so large as to occupy spaces 
three or four hundred feet square. They are mostly built of stone, 
the alternate courses of which are generally coloured externally 
red and white. Most commonly a large mosque consists of ]iorti- 
coes surrounding a square open court, in the centre of which is a 
tank or a fountain for ablution. One side of the building faces 
the direction of Mekkeh, and the portico on this side, being the 
principal place of prayer, is more spacious than those on the three 
other sides of the court. It generally has two or more rows of 
columns, forming so many aisles, parallel with the exterior wall. 



In some cases this joortico, like the other three, is open to the 
court ; in other cases it is separated from the court by partitions 
of wood, connecting the front row of columns. In the centre of 
its exterior wall is the " mehrab " (or niche) which marks the direc- 
tion of Mekkeh ; and to the right of this is the " mimbar " (or 
pulpit). Opposite the mehrab, in the fore part of the portico, or 
in its central ])art, there is generally a platform (called " dikkeh "), 
surrounded by a parapet, and supported by small columns ; and 
by it, or before it, are one or tAvo seats, having a kind of desk to 
bear a volume of the Kur-an, from which a chapter is read to the 
congregation. The walls are generally quite plain, being simply 
whitewashed ; but in some mosques the lower part of the wall of 
the place of prayer is lined with coloured marbles, and the other 
part ornamented with various devices executed in stucco, but 
mostly with texts of the Kur-an (which form long friezes, having 
a pleasing effect), and never with the representation of anything 
that has life. The pavement is covered with matting, and the 
rich and poor pray side by side ; the man of rank or wealth en- 
joying no peculiar distinction or comfort, unless (which is some- 
times the case) he have a prayer-carpet brought by his servant 
and spread for him. 

The Prophet did not forl)id women to attend public prayers in 
a mosque, but pronounced it better for them to pray in private. 
In Cairo, however, neither fem..Ies nor young boys are allowed to 
pray with the congregation in the mosque, or even to be present 
in the mosque at any time of prayer. Formerly women were 
permitted (and perhaps are still in some countries), but were 
obliged to place themselves apart from the men, and behind the 
latter ; because, as Sale has remarked, the Muslims are of opinion 
that the presence of females inspires a different kind of devotion 
from that which is requisite in a place dedicated to the worship of 
God. Very few women in Egypt even pray at home. 

Over each of the mosques of Cairo presides a " Nazir " (or 
warden), who is the trustee of the funds which arise from lands, 
houses, etc., bequeathed to the mosque by the founder and others, 
and who appoints the religious ministers and the inferior servants. 
Two " Imams " are employed to officiate in each of the larger 
mosques : one of them, called the " Khateeb," preaches and prays 



before the congregation on the Friday ; the other is an " Imam 
Ratib,"' or ordinary Imam, who recites the five prayers of every 
day in the mosque, at the head of those persons who may be there 
at the exact times of those prayers. But in most of the smaller 
mosques both these offices are performed by one Imam. There 
are also to each mosque one or more " mueddins " (to chant the 
call to prayer) and " bowwabs " (or door-keepers), according as 
there are one or more mad'nehs (or menarets) and entrances ; and 
several other servants are employed to sweep the mosque, spread 
the mats, light the lamps, and attend to the sakiyeh (or water- 
wheel), by which the tank or fountain, and other receptacles for 
water necessary to the performance of ablutions, are supplied. 
The Imams, and those persons who perform the lower offices, are 
all paid from the funds of the mosque, and not by any contribu- 
tions exacted from the people. 

The condition of the Imams is very different, in most respects, 
from that of Christian priests. They have no authority above 
other persons, and do not enjoy any respect but what their re- 
puted piety or learning may obtain them ; nor are they a distinct 
order of men set apart for religious offices, like our clergy, and 
composing an indissoluble fraternity, for a man who has acted as 
the Imam of a mosque may be displaced by the warden of that 
mosque, and, with his employment and salaiy, loses the title of 
Imam, and has no better chance of being again chosen for a re- 
ligious minister than any other person competent to perform the 
office. The Imams obtain their livelihood chiefly by other means 
than the service of the mosque, as their salaries are very small — 
that of a Khateeb being generally about a piaster (2|d. of our 
money) per month, and that of an ordinary Imam about five 
piasters. Some of them engage in trade ; several of them are 
" 'attars " (or druggists and perfumers), and many of them are 
schoolmasters. Those who have no regular occupations of these 
kinds often recite the Kur-an for hire in private houses. They 
are mostly chosen from among the poor students of the great 
mosque El-Azhar. 

The large mosques are open from daybreak till a little after 
the 'eshe, or till nearly two hours after sunset. The others are 
closed between the hours of morning and noon prayers ; and 

(440) 7 


most mosques are also closed in rainy weather (excepting at the 
times of prayer), lest persons who have no shoes should enter and 
dirt the pavement and matting. Such persons always enter by 
the door nearest the tank or fountain (if there be more than one 
door), that they may wash before they pass into the place of 
prayer ; and generally this door alone is left open in dirty weather. 
The great mosque El-Azhar remains 023en all night, with the excep- 
tion of the principal place of prayer, which is called the " maksoo- 
rah," being partitioned off from the rest of the building. In many 
of the larger mosques, particularly in the afternoon, persons are 
seen lounging, chatting together, eating, sleeping, and sometimes 
spinning or sewing, or engaged in some other simple craft ; but 
notwithstanding such practices, which are contrary to precepts of 
their Prophet, the Muslims very highly respect their mosques. 
There are several mosques in Cairo (as the Azhar, Hasaneyn, 
etc.) before which no Fi'ank, or any other Christian, nor a Jew, 
was allowed to pass, till of late years, since the French invasion. 

On the Friday, half-an-hour before the " duhr " (or noon), the 
mueddins of the mosques ascend to the galleries of the mad'nehs 
and chant the " Selam," which is a salutation to the Prophet, not 
always expressed in the same words, but generally in words to 
the following effect : — " Blessing and peace be on thee, O thou of 
great dignity ! O Apostle of God ! Blessing and peace be on 
thee, to whom the Truth said, I am God ! Blessing and peace 
be on thee, thou first of the creatures of God, and seal of the 
Apostles of God ! From me be peace on thee, on thee and on 
thy Family and all thy Companions!" Persons then begin to 
assemble in the mosques. 

The utmost solemnity and decoi^um are observed in the public 
worship of the Muslims. Their looks and behaviour in the mosque 
are not those of enthusiastic devotion, but of calm and modest 
piety. Never are they guilty of a designedly irregular word or 
action during their prayers. The pride and fanaticism which 
they exhibit in common life, in intercourse with persons of their 
own or of a different faith, seem to be dropped on their entering 
the mosque, and they appear wholly absorbed in the adoration of 
their Creator — humble and downcast, yet without affected humility 
or a forced expression of countenance. 


The Muslim takes off his shoes at the door of the mosque, 
carries them in liis left hand, sole to sole, and puts his right foot 
first over the threshold. If he have not previously performed the 
preparatory ablution, he repairs at once to the tank or fountain 
to acquit himself of that duty. Before he commences his prayers, 
he places his shoes (and his sword and pistols, if he have such 
arms) upon the matting, a little before the spot where his head 
will touch the ground .in ^prostration : his shoes are put one upon 
the other, sole to sole. 

The people who assemble to perform the noon prayers of Fri- 
day arrange themselves in rows parallel to that side of the mosque 
in which is the niche, and facing that side. Many do not go until 
the adan of noon, or just before. When a person goes at, or a 
little after, the Selam, as soon as he has taken his place in one of 
the ranks he performs two rek'ahs, and then remains sitting, on 
his knees or cross-legged, while a reader, having seated himself 
on the reading-chair immediately after the Selam, is occupied in 
reciting (usually without book) the Soorat el-Kahf (the 18th 
chapter of the Kur-an), or a part of it ; for generally he has not 
finished it before the adan of noon, when he stops. All the con- 
gregation, as soon as they hear the adan (which is the same as on 
other days), sit on their knees and feet. When the adan is finished, 
they stand up and perform, each separately, two rek'ahs, " sun- 
net el-gum'ah " (or the sunneh ordinance for Friday), which they 
conclude, like the oixlinary prayers, with the two salutations. A 
servant of the mosque, called a " Murakkee," then opens the 
folding-doors at the foot of the pulpit-stairs, takes from behind 
them a straight w^ooden sword, and standing a little to the right 
of the doorway, with his right side towards the kibleh, holds this 
sword in his right hand, resting the point on the ground. In this 
position he says, " Vei'ily God favoureth, and his angels bless, the 
Prophet. O ye who believe, bless him, and greet him with a 
salutation!" Then one or more persons, called " Muballighs," 
stationed on the dikkeh, chant the following, or similar words : — 
" O God ! favour and preserve and bless the most noble of the 
Arabs and 'Agam [or foreigners], the Imam of Mekkeh and El- 
Medeeneh and the Temple, to whom the spider showed favour and 
wove its web in the cave, and whom the dabb [lizard] saluted, and 


before whom the moon was cloven in twain, our lord Mohammad, 
and his Family and Companions !" The Murakkee then recites 
the adan (which the mueddins have already chanted) : after every 
few words he pauses, and the Muballighs on the dikkeh repeat 
the same words in a sonorous chant. Before the adan is finished, 
the Khateeb, or Imam, comes to the foot of the pulpit, takes the 
wooden sword from the Murakkee's hand, ascends the pulpit, and 
sits on the top step or platform. The pulpit of a large mosque 
on this day is decorated with two flags, with the profession of the 
faith, or the names of God and ]\Iohammad, worked upon them : 
these are fixed at the top of the stairs, slanting forward. The 
Murakkee and Muballighs having finished the adan, the former 
repeats a tradition of the Prophet, saying, " The Prophet (upon 
whom be blessing and peace !) hath said, ' If thou say unto thy 
companion while the Imam is preaching on Friday, Be thou silent, 
thou speakest rashly.' Be ye silent : ye shall be rewarded ; God 
shall recompense you." He then sits down. The Khateeb now 
rises, and holding the wooden sword in the same manner as the 
Murakkee did, delivers an exhortation, called " khutbet el-waaz." 
As the reader may be curious to see a translation of a Muslim 
sermon, I insert one. The following is a sermon preached on the 
first Friday of the Arab year. The original, as usual, is in rhym- 
ing prose. 

" Praise be to God, the renew er of years, and the multiplier of 
favours, and the creator of months and days, according to the most 
perfect wisdom and most adnairable regulation ; who hath dignified 
the months of the Arabs above all other months, and pronounced 
that among the more excellent of them is El-Moharram the 
Sacred, and commenced with it the year, as he hath closed it with 
Zu-1-Heggeh. How propitious is the beginning, and how good is 
the end ! [I extol] his perfection, exempting him from the asso- 
ciation of any other deity with him. He hath well considered 
what he hath formed, and established what he hath contrived, and 
he alone hath the power to create and to annihilate. I praise 
him, extolling his perfection, and exalting his name, for the 
knowledge and inspiration which he hath graciously vouchsafed ; 
and I testify that there is no deity but God alone ; he hath no 
companion ; he is the most holy King, the [God of] peace : and 


I testify that our lord and our Prophet and our friend Moham- 
mad is his servant, and his apostle, and his elect, and his friend, 
the guide of the way and the lamp of the dark. O God ! favour 
and preserve and bless this noble Prophet, and chief and excellent 
apostle, the merciful-hearted, our lord Mohammad, and his family, 
and his companions, and his wives, and his posterity, and the 
people' of his house, the noble persons, and preserve them amply ! 
O servants of God ! your lives have been gradually curtailed, and 
year after year hath passed away, and ye are sleeping on the bed 
of indolence and on the pillow of iniquity. Ye pass by the tombs 
of your predecessors, and fear not the assault of destiny and de- 
struction, as if others departed from the world and ye must of 
necessity remain in it. Ye rejoice at the arrival of new years, as 
if they brought an increase to the term of life, and swim in the 
seas of desires, and enlarge your hopes, and in every way exceed 
other people [in presumption], and ye are sluggish in doing good. 
O how great a calamity is this ! God teacheth by an allegory. 
Know ye not that in the curtailment of time by indolence and 
sleep there is very gi-eat trouble ? Know ye not that in the cut- 
ting short of lives by the termination of years is a very great 
warning % Know ye not that the night and day divide the lives 
of numerous souls % Know ye not that health and capacity are 
two blessings coveted by many men % But the truth hath become 
manifest to him who hath eyes. Ye are now between two years : 
one year hath passed away and come to an end with its evils ; and 
ye have entered upon another year, in which, if it please God, 
mankind shall be relieved. Is any of you determining upon dili- 
gence [in doing good] in the year to come? or repenting of his 
failings in the times that are passed? The happy is he who 
maketh amends for the time passed in the time to come ; and the 
miserable is he whose days pass away and he is careless of his time. 
This new year hath arrived, and the saci'ed month of God hath come 
with blessings to yovi — the first of the months of the year, and of 
the four sacred months, as hath been said, and the most worthy of 
preference and honour and reverence. Its fast is the most excel- 
lent of fasts after that which is incumbent [Ramadan], and the 
doing of good in it is among the most excellent of the objects of 
desire. Whosoever desireth to reap advantage from it, let him 


fast the ninth and tenth days, looking for aid. Abstain not from 
this fast through indolence, and esteeming it a hardship ; but 
comply with it in the best manner, and honour it with the best of 
honours, and improve your time by the worship of God morning 
and evening. Turn unto God with repentance before the assault 
of death ; he is the God who accepteth repentance of his servants 
and pardoneth sins. — The Tradition. — The Apostle of God (God 
favour and preserve him !) hath said : ' The most excellent prayer, 
after the prescribed, is the prayer that is said in the last third of 
the night ; and the most excellent fast, after Ramadan, is that of 
the month of God, El-Moharram.'" 

The Khateeb, having concluded his exhortation, says to the 
congregation, " Supplicate God." He then sits down, and prays 
privately ; and each member of the congregation at the same time 
offers up some private petition, as after the ordinaiy prayers, hold- 
ing his hands before him (looking at the palms), and then drawing 
them down his face. This done, the Muballighs say, " A'meen ! 
A'meen ! (Amen ! Amen !) O Lord of all creatures ! " The Kha- 
teeb now rises again, and recites another Khutbeh, called "khut- 
bet en-naat," of which the following is a translation : — 

" Praise be to God, abundant praise, as he hath commanded ! 
I testify that there is no deity but God alone : he hath no com- 
panion : affirming his supremacy, and condemning him who de- 
nieth and disbelieveth : and I testify that our lord and our prophet 
Mohammad is his servant and his apostle, the lord of mankind, 
the intercessor, the accepted intercessor, on the day of assembling : 
God favour him and his family as long as the eye seeth and the 
ear heareth ! O people ! reverence God by doing what he hath 
commanded, and abstain from that which he hath forbidden and 
prohibited. The happy is he who obeyeth, and the miserable is 
he who opposeth and sinneth. Know that the present w^orld is a 
transitory abode, and that the world to come is a lasting abode. 
Make provision, therefore, in your transitory state for your last- 
ing state, and prepare for your reckoning and standing before 
your Lord : for know that ye shall to-morrow be placed before 
God, and reckoned with according to your deeds ; and before the 
Lord of Might ye shall be present, ' and those who have acted 
unjustly shall know with what an overthrowal they shall be over- 


thrown.' Know that God, whose jDerfection I extol, and whose 
name be exalted, hath said (and ceaseth not to say wisely, and to 
command judiciously, warning you, and teaching, and honouring the 
dignity of your Prophet, extolling and magnifying him), ' Verily, 
God favoureth, and his angels bless, the Prophet : O ye who be- 
lieve, bless him, and gi'eet him with a salutation ! ' O God ! favour 
Mohammad and the family of ^lohammad, as thou fa\ouredst Ibra- 
heem [Abraham] and the family of Ibraheem ; and bless Mohammad 
and the family of jNIohammad, as thou blessedst Ibraheem and the 
family of Ibraheem among all creatures — for thou art praise- 
worthy and glorious ! O God ! do thou also be well pleased with 
the four Khaleefehs, the orthodox lords, of high dignity and 
illustrious honour, Aboo-Bekr Es-Siddeek, and 'Omar, and 'Osman, 
and 'Alee ; and be thou well pleased, O God ! with the six who 
remained of the ten noble and just persons who swore allegiance 
to thy Prophet Mohammad (God favour and preserve him !) under 
the tree (for thou art the Lord of piety and the Lord of pardon) ; 
those persons of excellence and clemency, and rectitude and pros- 
perity, Talhah, and Ez-Zubeyr, and Saad, and Sa'eed, and 'Abd- 
Er-Rahman Ibn-'Owf, and Aboo-'Obeydeh 'A'mir Ibn-El-Garrah ; 
and with all the Companions of the Apostle of God (God favour 
and preserve him!); and be thou well pleased, O God! with the' 
two martyred descendants, the two bright moons, ' the two lords 
of the youths of the people of Paradise in Paradise,' the two 
swee1>smelling Howers of the Prophet of this nation, Aboo-Moham- 
mad El-Hasan, and Aboo-'Abd-Allah El-Hoseyn : and be thou 
well pleased, O God ! with their mother, the daughter of the 
Apostle of God (God favour and preserve him !), Fatimeh Ez- 
Zahra, and with their grandmother Khadeegeh El-Kubra, and 
with 'A'isheh, the mother of the faithful, and with the rest of the 
pure wives, and with the generation which succeeded the Com- 
panions, and the generation which succeeded that, with beneficence 
to the day of judgment ! O God ! pardon the believing men and 
the believing women, and the Muslim men and the Muslim 
women, those who are living, and the dead ; for thou art a hearer 
near, an answerer of prayers, O Lord of all creatures ! O God ! 
aid El-Islam, and strengthen its pillars, and make infidelity to 
tremble, and destroy its might, by the preservation of thy servant, 


and the son of thy servant, the submissive to the might of thy 
majesty and glory, wliom God hath aided, by the care of the 
Adored King, our master the Sultan, son of the Sultan, the 
Sultan Mahmood Khan : may God assist him, and prolong [his 
reign] ! O God ! assist him, and assist his armies ! O thou Lord 
of the religion, and of the world jDresent, and the world to come ! 
O Lord of all creatures ! O God ! assist the forces of the Mus- 
lims, and the armies of the Unitarians ! O God ! frustrate the 
infidels and polytheists, thine enemies, the enemies of the religion! 
O God ! invert their banners, and ruin their habitations, and give 
them and their wealtli as booty to the Muslims ! God ! un- 
loose the cajDtivity of the captives, and annul the debts of the 
debtors ; and make this town to be safe and secure, and blessed 
with wealth and plenty, and all the towns of the Muslims, O Lord 
of all creatures ! And decree safety and health to us and to all 
travellers, and pilgrims, and warriors, and wanderers, upon thy 
earth, and upon thy sea, such as are Muslims, O Lord of all 
creatures ! ' Lord ! we have acted unjustly towards our own 
souls, and if thou do not forgive us and be merciful unto us, we 
shall surely be of those who perish.' I beg of God, the Great, 
that he may forgive me and you, and all the people of Moham- 
mad, the servants of God. ' Yerily, God commandeth justice, 
and the doing of good, and giving [what is due] to kindred; and 
forbiddeth wickedness, and iniquity, and ojjpression : he admon- 
isheth you that ye may reflect.' Remember God; he will re- 
member you : and thank him ; he will increase to you [your 
blessings]. Praise be to God, the Lord of all creatures ! " 

During the rise of the Kile, a good inundation is also prayed 
for in tliis Khutbeh. The Khateeb, or Imam, having ended it, 
descends from the pulpit, and the Muballighs chant the " ikameh :" 
the Imam, stationed before the niche, then recites the "fard" 
prayers of Friday, which consist of two rek'ahs, and are similar to 
the ordinary prayers. The people do the same, but silently, and 
keeping time exactly with the Imam in the various postures. Those 
who are of the Malikee sect then leave the mosque, and so also 
do many persons of the other sects ; but some of the Shdfe'ees 
and Hanafees (there are scarcely any Hambel'ees in Cairo) remain, 
and recite the ordinary fard prayers of noon — forming a number 


of separate groups, in each of which one acts as Imam. The rich, 
on going out of the mosque, often give ahns to the poor outside 
the door. 

There are other prayers to be performed on particular occa- 
sions — on the two grand annual festivals, on the nights of Rama- 
dan (the month of abstinence), on the occasion of an eclipse of the 
sun or moon, for rain, previously to the commencement of battle, 
in pilgrimage, and at funerals. 

I have spoken thus fully of Muslim worship because my coun- 
trymen in general have very imperfect and erroneous notions on 
this subject ; many of them even imagining that the Muslims 
ordinarily pray to their Prophet as well as to God. Invocations 
to the Prophet, for his intercession, are, indeed, frequently made, 
particularly at his tomb, where pious visitors generally say, " We 
ask thy intercession, O Apostle of God ! '' The Muslims also even 
implore the intercession of their numerous saints. 

The duty next in importance to prayer is that of giving alms. 
Certain alms are prescribed by law, and are called " zekah ; " 
others, called "sadakah," are voluntary. The former, or obliga- 
tory alms, were, in the eai-lier ages of El-Islam, collected by 
officers appointed by the sovereign, for pious uses, such as build- 
ing mosques, etc. ; but now it is left to the Muslim's conscience to 
give them, and to apply them in what manner he thinks fit — that 
is, to bestow them upon whatever needy persons he may choose. 
They are to be given once in every year, of cattle and sheep, 
generally in the proportion of one in forty, two in a hundred and 
twenty ; of camels, for every five, a ewe ; or for twenty-five, a 
pregnant camel ; and likewise of money, and, among the Hana- 
fees, of merchandise, etc. He who has money to the amount of 
two hundred dirhems (or drams) of silver, or twenty mitkals (that 
is, thirty drams) of gold (or, among the Hanafees, the value of the 
above in gold or silver ornaments, utensils, etc.), must annually 
give the fortieth part (" ruba el-'oshr "), or tlie value of that part. 

Fasting is the next duty. The Muslim is commanded to fast 
during the whole month of Ramadan every day, from the first 
appearance of daybreak, or rather from the hour when there is 
sufficient light for a person to distinguish plainly a white thread 
from a black thread (about two hours before sunrise in Egypt), 


until sunset. He must abstain from eating, drinking, smoking, 
smelling perfumes, and every unnecessary indulgence or pleasure 
of a worldly nature ; even fi-om intentionally swallowing his spittle. 
When Ramadan falls in summer, the fast is very severe, the 
abstinence from drinking being most painfully felt. Persons who 
are sick, or on a journey, and soldiers in time of war, are not 
obliged to observe the fast during Ramadan ; but if they do not 
keep it in this month, they should fast an equal number of days 
at a future time. Fasting is also to be dispensed with in the 
cases of a nurse and a pregnant woman. The Prophet even dis- 
approved of any person's keeping the fast of Ramadan if not 
perfectly able, and desired no man to fast so much as to injure 
his health or disqualify himself for necessary labour. The modern 
Muslims seem to regard the fast of Ramadan as of more import- 
ance than any other religious act, for many of them keep this fast 
who neglect their daily ])rayers ; and even those who break the 
fast, with very few exceptions, pretend to keep it. Many Mus- 
lims of the wealthy classes eat and drink in secret during Rama- 
dan ; but the greater number strictly keep the fast, Avhich is fatal 
to numerous persons in a weak state of health. There are some 
other days on which it is considered meritorious to fast, but not 
absolutely necessary. On the two grand festivals — namely, that 
following Ramadan, and that which succeeds the pilgrimage — it is 
unlaiofiil to do so, being expressly forbidden by the Prophet. 

The last of the four most important duties, that of ^^lYyriwia^'e, 
remains to be noticed. It is incumbent on every Muslim to per- 
form, once in his life, the pilgrimage to Mekkeh and Mount 'Ara- 
fat, unless poverty or ill-health jDrevent him ; or, if a Hanafee, he 
may send a deputy, whose expenses he must pay. Many, how- 
ever, neglect the duty of pilgrimage who cannot plead a lawful 
excuse; and they are not reproached for so doing. It is not 
merely by the visit to Mekkeh, and the performance of the cere- 
monies of compassing the Kaabeh seven times and kissing the 
"black stone" in each round, and other idtes in the Holy City, 
that the Muslim acquires the title of " el-hagg " (or the pilgrim) : 
the final object of the pilgrimage is Mount 'Arafat, six hours' 
journey distant from Mekkeh. During his performance of the 
required ceremonies in Mekkeh, and also during his journey to 


Arafat, and until his completion of the pilgrimage, the Muslim 
wears a peculiar dress, called " ehram " (vulgarly heram), generally- 
consisting of two simple pieces of cotton, or linen, or woollen 
cloth, without seam or ornament, one of which is wrapped round 
the loins, and the other thrown over the shoulders. The instep and 
heel of each foot, and the head, must be bare ; but umbrellas are 
now used by many of the pilgrims. It is necessary that the pil- 
grim be present on the occasion of a Khutbeh which is recited on 
Mount 'Arafat in the afternoon of the 9th of the month of Zu-1- 
Heggeh. In the ensuing evening, after sunset, the pilgrims com- 
mence their return to Mekkeh. Halting the following day in the 
valley of Mina (or, as it is more commonly called, Muna), they 
complete the ceremonies of the pilgrimage by a sacrifice (of one 
or more male sheep, he-goats, cows, or she-camels, part of the 
flesh of which they eat, and part give to the poor), and by shaving 
the head and clipping the nails. Every one, after this, resumes 
his usual dress, or puts on a new one, if provided with such. The 
sacrifice is called " el-fida " (or the ransom), as it is performed in 
commemoration of the ransom of Isma'eel (or Ishmael) by the 
sacrifice of the ram, when he was himself about to have been 
offered up by his father; for it is the general opinion of the 
Muslims that it was this son, not Isaac, who was to have been 
sacrificed by his father. 

There are other ordinances, more or less connected with those 
which have been already explained. 

The two festivals called "el-'Eed es-Sugheiyir," or the Minor 
Festival, and "el-'Eed el-Kebeer," or the Great Festival, the occa- 
sions of which have been mentioned above, are observed with 
public prayer and general rejoicing. The first of these lasts three 
days, and the second, three or four days. The festivities with 
which they are celebrated will be described in a subsequent chapter. 
On the first day of the latter festival (it being the day on which 
the pilgrims perform their sacrifice) every Muslim should slay a 
victim, if he can afibrd to purchase one. The wealthy person 
slays several sheep, or a sheep or two, and a buffalo, and distri- 
butes the greater portion of the meat to the poor. The slaughter 
may be performed by a deputy. 

War against enemies of El-Islani, who have been the first 


aggressors, is enjoined as a sacred duty, and he who loses his life 
in fulfilling this duty, if unpaid, is jDromised the rewards of a 
martyr. It has been said, even by some of their leading doctors, 
that the Muslims are commanded to put to death all idolaters 
who refuse to embrace El-Islam, excepting women and children, 
whom they are to make slaves ;^ but the precepts on which this 
assertion is founded relate to the pagan Arabs, who had violated 
their oaths, and long persevered in their hostility to Mohammad 
and his followers. According to the decisions of the most reason- 
able doctors, the laws respecting other idolaters, as well as Chris- 
tians and Jews, who have drawn upon themselves the hostility of 
the Muslims, are different. Of such enemies, if reduced by force 
of arms, refusing to capitulate or to surrender themselves, the 
men may be put to death or be made slaves, and the women and 
children also, under the same circumstances, may be made slaves ; 
but life and liberty are to be granted to those enemies who sur- 
render themselves by capitulation or otherwise, on the condition 
of their embracing El-Islam or paying a poll-tax, unless they have 
acted perfidiously towards the Muslims, as did the Jewish tribe 
of Kureydhah, who, being in league with Mohammad, went over 
to his enemies and aided them against him ; for which conduct, 
when they surrendered, the men w^ere slain, and the women and 
children were made slaves. The Muslims, it may here be added, 
are forbidden to contract intimate friendship with unbelievers. 

There are certain prohibitory laws in the Kur-an which must 
be mentioned here, as remarkably affecting the moral and social 
condition of its- disciples. 

Wine and all inebriating liquors are forbidden, as being the 
cause of "more evil than profit." Many of the Muslims, hoAv- 
ever, in the present day, drink wine, brandy, etc., in secret, and 
some, thinking it no sin to indulge thus in moderation, scruple 
not to do so openly ; but among the Egyptians there are few who 
transgress in this flagrant manner. " Boozeh," or "boozah," which 
is an intoxicating liquor made with barley-bread, crumbled, mixed 
with w^ater, strained, and left to ferment, is commonly drunk by 
the boatmen of the Nile, and by other persons of the lower orders. 
Opium and other drugs which produce a similar effect are con- 
sidered unlawful, though not mentioned in the Kur-an ; and 


persons who are addicted to the use of these drugs are regarded 
as immoral characters ; but in Egypt such persons are not very 
numerous. Some Muslims have pronounced tobacco, and even 
coffee, unlawful. 

The eating of swine's flesh is strictly forbidden. The unwhole- 
some effects of that meat in a hot climate w-ould be a sufficient 
reason for the prohibition ; but the pig is held in abhorrence by 
the Muslim chiefly on account of its extremely filthy habits. 
Most animals prohibited for food by the Mosaic law are alike 
forbidden to tlie Muslim. The camel is an exception. Tlie 
Muslim is " forbidden [to eat] that which dieth of itself ; and 
blood, and swine's flesh, and that on which the name of any 
beside God hath been invoked ; and that Avhicli hath been 
strangled or killed by a blow, or by a fall, or by the horns [of 
another beast] ; and that which hath been [partly] eaten by a 
wild beast, except what he shall [himself] kill ; and that which 
hath been saci'ificed unto idols." An animal that is killed for 
the food of man must be slaughtered in a particular manner : the 
person who is about to perform the operation must say, " In the 
name of God ! God is most great ! " and then cut its throat, at 
the part next the head, taking care to divide the windpipe, gullet, 
and carotid arteries \ unless it be a camel, in which case he should 
stah the throat at the part next the breast. It is forbidden to 
utter, in slaughtering an animal, the phrase which is so often made 
use of on other occasions, " In tlie name of God, the Compassion- 
ate, the Merciful ! " because the mention of the most benevolent 
epithets of the Deity on such an occasion would seem like a 
mockeiy of the sufferings which it is about to endure. Some 
persons in Egypt, but mostly women, when about to kill an ani- 
mal for food, say, " In the name of God ! God is most great ! 
God give thee patience to endure the affliction Avhicli he hath 
allotted thee !" If the sentiment which first dictated this prayer 
were always felt, it would present a beautiful trait in the char- 
acter of the people who use it. In cases of necessity, when in 
danger of starving, the Muslim is allowed to eat any food which 
is unlawful under other circumstances. The mode of slaughter 
above described is, of course, only required to be practised in the 
cases of domestic animals. Most kinds of fish are lawful food ; so 


also are many birds, the tame kinds of which must be killed in 
the same manner as cattle, but the wild may be shot. The hare, 
rabbit, gazelle, etc., are lawful food, and may either be shot, or 
killed by a dog, provided the name of God was uttered at the 
time of discharging the arrow, etc., or slipping the dog, and he 
(the dog) has not eaten any part of the prey. This animal, how- 
ever, is considered very unclean. The Shafe'ees hold themselves to 
be polluted by the touch of its nose, if it be wet ; and if any part 
of their clothes be so touched, they must wash that part with 
seven waters, and once with clean earth. Some others are only 
careful not to let the animal lick, or defile in a worse manner, 
their persons or their dress, etc. When game has been struck 
down by any weapon, but not killed, its throat must be imme- 
diately cut ; otherwise it is unlawful food. 

Gambling and usury are prohibited, and all games of chance ; 
and likewise the making of images or pictures of anything that 
has life. The Prophet declared that every representation of this 
kind would be placed before its author on the day of judgment, 
and that he would be commanded to put life into it ; which not 
being able to do, he would be cast, for a time, into hell. 

The principal civil and criminal laws remain to be stated. 
Their origin we discover partly in customs of the pagan Arabs, 
but mostly in the Jewish Scriptures and traditions. 

The civil and criminal laws are chiefly and immediately de- 
rived from the Kur-an, but in many important cases this highest 
authority affords no precept. In most of these cases the Tradi- 
tions of the Prophet direct the decisions of the judge. There 
are, however, some important cases, and many of an inferior kind, 
respecting which both the Kur-an and the Traditions are silent or 
undecisive. These are determined by the explanations and ampli- 
fications derived either from the concordance of the principal 
early disciples or from analogy by the four great Imams or 
founders of the four orthodox sects of El-Islam — generally on the 
authority of the Imam of that sect to which the ruling power be- 
longs, which sect, in Egypt and throughout the Turkish Empire, is 
that of the Hanafees ; or, if none of the decisions of the Imam 
relate to a case in dispute (which not unfrequently happens), 
judgment is given in accordance with a sentence of some other 


eminent doctor, founded upon analogy. In genei^al, only the 
principal laws, as laid down in the Kur-an and the Traditions, 
will be here stated. 

The laws relating to marriage and the license of folygannj, the 
facility of divorce allowed by the Kur-an, and the permission of 
concubinage, are essentially the natural and necessary consequences 
of the main principle of the constitution of Muslim society — the 
restriction of the intercourse between the sexes before marriage. 
Few men would marry if he who was disappointed in a wife whom 
he had never seen before were not allowed to take another ; and 
in the case of a man's doing this, his own happiness, or that of the 
former wife, or the happiness of both these parties, may require 
his either retaining this wife or divorcing her. But I hope that 
my reader will admit a much stronger reason for these laws, re- 
garding them as designed for the Muslims. As the INIosaic code 
allowed God's chosen people, for the hardness of their hearts, to 
put away their wives, and forbade neither polygamy nor concubin- 
age, he who believes that Moses was divinely inspired to enact 
the best laws for his people must hold the permission of these 
practices to be less injurious to morality than their prohibition, 
among a people similar to the ancient Jews. Their permission, 
though certainly productive of injurious effects upon morality and 
domestic happiness, prevents a profligacy that would be worse 
than that which prevails to so great a degree in European countries, 
where parties are united in marriage after an intimate mutual 
acquaintance. As to the license of polygamy, which seems to be 
unfavourable to the accomplishment of the main object for which 
marriage was instituted, as well as to the exercise and improve- 
ment of the nobler powers of the mind, we should remark that it 
was not introduced, but limited, by the legislator of the Muslims. 
It is true tliat he assumed to himself the privilege of having a 
greater number of wives than he allowed to others ; but in doing 
so he may have been actuated by the want of male offspring, rather 
than impelled by voluptuousness. 

The law respecting marriage and concubinage is perfectly 
explicit as to the number of wives whom a Muslim may have at 
the same time, but it is not so with regard to the number of 
concubine-slaves whom he may have. It is written, "Take in 


marriage, of the women who please you, two, three, or four ; but 
if ye fear that ye cannot act equitably [to so many, take] one ; or 
[take] those whom your right hands have acquired," that is, your 
slaves. Therefore many of the wealthy Muslims marry two, 
three, or four wives, and keep besides several concubine-slaves ; 
and many of the most revered characters, even Companions of the 
Prophet, are recorded to have done the same. The conduct of the 
latter clearly shows that the number of concubine-slaves whom a 
man may have is not limited by the law in the opinion of the 

It is held lawful for a Muslim to marry a Christian or a Jewish 
woman, if induced to do so by excessive love of her, or if he 
cannot oljtain a wife of his own faith ; but in this case the off- 
spring must follow the father's faith, and the wife does not in- 
herit when the father dies. A Muslim'eh, however, is not allowed 
under any circumstances, but when force is employed, to marry a 
man who is not of her own faith. A man is forbidden by the 
Kur-an and the Sunneh to marry his mother, or other ascendant ; 
his daughter, or other descendant ; his sister, or half-sister ; the 
sister of his father or mother, or other ascendant ; his niece, or 
any of her descendants ; his foster-mother, or a woman related to 
him by milk in any of the degrees which would preclude his 
marriage with her if she were similarly related to him by con- 
sanguinity ; the mother of his wife, even if he have not con- 
summated his marriage with this wife ; the daughter of his wife, 
if he have consummated his marriage with the latter, and she be 
still his wife ; his father's wife, and his son's wife ; and to have at 
the same time two wives who are sisters, or aunt and niece. He is 
forbidden also to marry his unemancipated slave, or another man's 
slave, if he have already a free wife. It is lawful for the Muslim 
to see the faces of those women whom he is forbidden to marry, 
but of no others, excepting his own wives and female slaves. The 
marriage of a man and woman, or of a man and a girl who has 
arrived at puberty, is lawfully effected by their declaring (which 
the latter generally does by a " wekeel " or deputy) their consent 
to marry each other, in the presence of two witnesses (if witnesses 
can be procured), and by the payment, or part-payment, of a 
dowry. But the consent of a girl under the age of puberty is not 


I'equired, her father, or, if he be dead, her nearest adult male re- 
lation, or any person appointed as her guardian by will or by the 
Kadee, acting for her as he pleases. The giving of a dowry is 
indispensable, and the least sum that is allowed by law is ten 
" dirhems "' (or drams of silver), which is equal to about five 
shillings of our money. A man may legally marry a woman 
without mentioning a dowry ; but after the consummation of the 
marriage she can, in this case, compel him to pay the sum of ten 
dirhems. (See Deut. xxiv. 1.) 

A man may divorce his wife twice, and each time take her 
back without any ceremony, excepting in a case to be mentioned 
below ; but if he divorce her the third time, or put her away by 
a triple divorce conveyed in one sentence, he cannot receive 
her again until she has been married and divorced by another 
husband, who must have consummated his marriage with her. 
When a man divorces his wife (which he does by merely saying, 
" Thou art divorced," or " I divorce thee "), he pays her a portion 
of her dowry (generally one-third), which he had kept back from 
the first, to be paid on this occasion or at his death ; and she 
takes away with her the furniture, etc., which she brought at her 
marriage. He may thus put her away from mere dislike, and 
without assigning any reason. But a woman cannot separate her- 
self from her husband against his will, unless it be for some con- 
siderable fault on his part, as cruel treatment or neglect ; and 
even then, application to the Kadee's court is generally necessary 
to compel the man to divorce her, and she forfeits the above- 
mentioned remnant of the dowry. 

The first and second divorce, if made without any mutual 
agreement for a compensation from the woman, or a pecuniary 
sacrifice on her part, is termed " talak reg'ee " (a divorce which 
admits of return) ; because the husband may take back his wife, 
without her consent, during the period of her "'eddeh" (which 
will be presently explained), but not after, unless with her con- 
sent, and by a new contract. If he divorce her the first or second 
time for a compensation, she perhaps requesting, " Divorce me 
for what thou owest me," or " — hast of mine " (that is, of the 
dowry, furniture, etc.), or for an additional sum, he cannot take 
her again but by her own consent, and by a new contract. This 

(440) 8 


is a " talak bain " (or separating divorce), and is termed " the 
lesser separation," to distinguish it from the third divorce, which 
is called "the greater separation." The '"eddeh " is the period 
during which a divorced woman or a widow must wait before 
marrying again — in either case, if pregnant, until delivery ; other- 
wise the former must wait three lunar periods, or three months, 
and the latter four months and ten days. A woman who is 
divorced when in a state of pregnancy, though she may make a 
new contract of marriage immediately after her delivery, must 
wait forty days longer before she can complete her marriage by 
receiving her husband. The man who divorces his wife must 
maintain her in his own house, or in that of her parents, or else- 
where, during the period of her 'eddeh, but must cease to live 
with her as her husband from the commencement of that period. 
A divorced woman who has a son under two years of age may 
retain him until he has attained that age, and may be compelled 
to do so by the law of the Shafe'ees ; and by the law of the 
Malikees, until he has arrived at puberty ; but the Hanafee law 
limits the period during which the boy should remain under her 
care to seven years. Her daughter she should retain until nine 
years of age, or the period of puberty. If a man divorce liis wife 
before the consummation of marriage, he must pay her half the 
sum which he has promised to give her as a dowry ; or if he have 
promised no dowry, he must pay her the half of the smallest 
dowry allowed by law, which has been mentioned above, and she 
may marry again immediately. 

When a wife refuses to obey the lawful commands of her hus- 
band, he may, and generally does, take her, or two witnesses 
against her, to the Kadee's court, to prefer a complaint against 
her ; and, if the case be proved, a certificate is written declaring 
the woman "nashizeh," or rebellious against her husband. This 
process is termed "writing a woman nashizeh." It exempts her 
husband from obligation to lodge, clothe, and maintain her. He 
is not obliged to divorce her, and by refusing to do this he may 
prevent her marrying another man as long as he lives ; but if she 
promise to be obedient afterwards, he must take her back and 
maintain her, or divorce her. It is more common, however, for a 
wife whose husband refuses to divorce her, if she liave parents or 


other relations able and willing to support her comfortably, to 
make a complaint at the Kadee's court, stating her husband's 
conduct to be of such a nature towards her that she will not live 
with him, and thus cause herself to be registered " nashizeh," and 
separated from him. In this case the husband generally persists, 
fi'om mere spite, in refusing to divorce her. 

As concubines are slaves, some account of slaves in general 
may here be appropriately inserted, with a statement of the 
principal laws respecting concubines and their ofisj^ring, etc. 
The slave is either a person taken captive in war or carried otf 
by force from a foreign hostile country, and being at the time of 
capture an infidel ; or the offspring of a female slave by another 
slave, or by any man who is not her owner, or by her owner if he 
do not acknowledge himself to be the father ; but a person can- 
not be the slave of a relation who is within the prohibited degrees 
of marriage. The power of the owner is such that he may even 
kill his slave with impunity for any offence ; and he incurs but a 
.slight punishment (as imprisonment for a period at the discretion 
of the judge) if he do so wantonly. He may give or sell his 
slaves, excepting in some cases which will be mentioned ; and 
may marry them to whom he will, but not sepai-ate them when 
married. A slave, however, according to most of the doctors, 
cannot have more than two wives at the same time. As a slave 
enjoys less advantages than a free person, the law, in some cases, 
ordains that his punishment for an offence shall be half of that 
to which the free is liable for the same offence, or even less than 
half. If it be a fine, or pecuniary compensation, it must be paid 
by the owner, to the amount, if necessary, of the value of the 
slave, or the slave must be given in compensation. An uneman- 
cipated slave, at the death of the owner, becomes the property of 
the heirs of the latter ; and when an emancipated slave dies, 
leaving no male descendant or collateral relation, the former 
owner is the heir ; or, if he be dead, his heirs inherit the slave's 
property. But an unemancipated slave can acquire no property 
without the permission of the owner. Complete and immediate 
emancipation is sometimes granted to a slave gratuitously or for a 
future pecuniary compensation. It is conferred by means of a 
written document, or by a verbal declaration in the presence of 


two witnesses, or by presenting the slave with the certificate of 
sale obtained from the former owner. Future emancipation is 
soinetimes covenanted to be granted on the fulfilment of certain 
conditions ; and more frequently, to be conferred on the occasion 
of the owner's death. In the latter case, the owner cannot sell 
the slave to whom he has made this promise ; and as he cannot 
alienate by will more than one-third of the whole property that he 
leaves, the law ordains that, if the value of the said slave exceed 
that portion, the slave must obtain, and pay to the owner's heirs, 
the additional sum. A Muslim may take as his concubine any of 
his female slaves who is a Muslim'eh, or a Christian, or a Jewess, 
if he have not married her to another man ; but he may not have 
as his concubines, at the same time, two or more who are sisters, 
or who are related to each other in any of the degrees which 
would prevent their both being his wives at the same time if they 
were free. A Christian is not by the law allowed, nor is a Jew, 
to have a Muslim'eh slave as his concubine. The master must 
wait a certain period (generally from a month to three months) 
after his acquisition of a female slave before he can take her as 
his concubine. When a female slave becomes a mother by her 
master, the child which she bears to him is free if he acknowledge 
it to be his own; but if not, it is his slave. In the former case the 
mother cannot afterwards be sold or given away by her master 
(though she must continue to serve him and be his concubine as long 
as he desires) ; and she is entitled to emancipation at his death. 
Her bearing a child to him is called the cause of her emancipation or 
liberty ; but it does not oblige him to emancipate her as long as he 
lives, though it is commendable if he do so, and make her his wife, 
provided he have not already four wives, or if he marry her to an- 
other man, should it be her wish. A free person cannot become the 
husband or wife of his or her own slave without first emancipating 
that slave ; and the mai'riage of a free person with the slave of an- 
other is dissolved if the former become the owner of the latter, and 
cannot be renewed but by emancipation and a regular legal contract. 
The most remarkable general principles of the laws of inherit- 
ance are the denial of any privileges to primogeniture,* and in most 

' In this the Muslim law differs from the ]\Iosaic, which assigns a double portion to the 
first-born son. (See Dent, xxi 17.") 


cases aA\arding to a female a share equal to half that of a male of 
the same degree of relationship to the deceased. A person may 
bequeath one-third of his or her property, but not a larger portion, 
unless he or she lias no legal heir ; nor any portion to a legal heir, 
excepting wife or husband, without the consent of all the other 
heirs. The children of a person deceased inherit the whole of 
that person's property, or what remains after payment of the 
legacies and debts, etc., and the share of a male is double the 
share of a female. If the children of the deceased be only 
females, two or more in number, they inherit together, by the law 
of the Kur-an, two-thirds ; and if there be but one child, and that 
a female, she inherits by the same law half. [But the remaining 
third, or half, is also assigned to the said daughters or daughter, 
by a law of the Sunneh (which applies also to other cases), if there 
be no other legal heir.] If the deceased have left no immediate 
descendant, the sons and daughters of his son or sons inherit as 
immediate descendants [and so on]. If the deceased have left a 
child or a son's child [and so on], each of the parents of the 
deceased inherits one-sixth. If the father be dead, his share falls 
to Ills father. [If the mother be dead, her share falls to her 
mother.] If the deceased have left no child or son's child [and so 
on], the mother has one-third of the property, or of what remains 
after deducting the share of the wife or wives or husband, and the 
residue is for the father ; unless the deceased has left two or more 
brothers or sisters, in which case the mother inherits one-sixth, 
and the father the residue, the said brothers or sisters receiving 
nothing [if the deceased have left a father or any ascendant in the 
male line]. A man inherits half of what remains of his wife's 
property after the payment of her legacies, etc., if she have left 
no child or son's child [and so on] ; and one-fourth if she have left 
a child or son's child [and so on]. One-fourth is the share of the 
wife, or of the wives conjointly, if the deceased husband have left 
no child or son's child [and so on] ; and one-eighth if he have left 
any such descendant. If the deceased have not left a father [nor 
any ascendant in the male line], nor a child [nor a son's child, and 
so on], the law ordains as follows :— 1. A sole brother or sister, 
only by the mother's side, inherits one-sixth ; and if there be two 
or more brothers or sisters, only by the mother's side, or one or 


more of such I'elations of each sex, they inherit collectively one> 
third, which is equally divided, without distinction of male and 
female. 2. If the deceased have left a sole sister by his father 
and mother [and no such brother], she inherits half ; and a man 
inherits the whole property of such a sister [or what remains 
after the payment of her legacies, etc.], if she have left no child ; 
but if she have left a male child [or son's child, and so on], he 
(the brother) inherits nothing ; and if she have left a female 
child, the said brother inherits what remains after deducting 
that child's share [and after the payment of the legacies, etc.]. If 
the deceased have left two or more sisters, by his father and 
mother [and no such brother], they inherit together two-thirds. 
If the deceased have left one or more brothers, and one or more 
sisters, by his father and mother, they inherit the whole [or what 
remains after the payment of the legacies, etc.], and the share of 
a male is double the share of a female. 3. Brothers and sisters 
by the father's side only [when there is no brother or sister by the 
father and mother] inherit as brothers and sisters by the father 
and mother. No distinction is made between the child of a wife 
and that borne by a slave to her master (if the master acknow- 
ledge the child to be his own) ; both inherit equally. So also do 
the child of a wife and the adopted child. A bastard inherits 
only from his motliei', and vice versA. When there is no legal 
heir, or legatee, the property falls to the government treasury, 
which is called " beyt el-mal." The laws respecting certain re- 
mote degrees of kindred, etc., I have not thought it necessary to 
state. The property of the deceased is nominally divided into 
" keerats " (or twenty -fourth parts), and the share of each son, or 
other heir, is said to be so many keerats. 

The law is remarkably lenient towards debtors. " If there be 
any [debtor]," says the Kur-an, " under a difficulty [of paying 
his debt], let [his creditor] wait till it be easy [for him to do it] ; 
but if ye remit it as alms, it will be better for you." The Muslim 
is commanded (in the chapter from which the above extract is 
taken), when he contracts a debt, to cause a statement of it 
to be written and attested by two men, or a man and two 
women, of his own faith. The debtor is imprisoned for non- 
payment of his debt ; but if he establish his insolvency, he is 


liberated. He may be compelled to work for the discharge of his 
debt, if able. 

The Kur-an ordains that murder shall be punished with death ; 
or rather, that the free shall die for the free, the slave for the 
slave, and a woman for a woman ; or that the perpetrator of the 
crime shall pay to the heirs of the person whom he has killed, if 
they allow it, a fine, which is to be divided according to the laws 
of inheritance. It also ordains that uninte^itional homicide shall 
be expiated by freeing a believer from slavery, and paying, to the 
family of the person killed, a fine, unless they remit it. But 
these laws are amplified and explained by the same book and by 
the Imams. A fine is not to be accepted for murder unless the 
crime has been attended by some palliating circumstance. This 
fine, which is the price of blood, is a hundred camels ; or a 
thousand deenars (about £500) from him who possesses gold ; 
or from him who possesses silver, twelve thousand dirhems (about 
£300). This is for killing a free man ; for a woman, half the 
sum ; for a slave, his or her value : but that must fall short 
of the price of blood for the free. A person unable to free a 
believer must fast two months, as in Ramadan. The accomplices 
of a murderer are liable to the punishment of death. By the 
Sunneh, also, a man is obnoxious to capital punishment for the 
murder of a woman ; and by the Hanafee law, for the murder of 
another man's slave. But he is exempted from this jDunishment 
who kills his own child or other descendant, or his own slave, or 
his son's slave, or a slave of whom he is part-owner ; so also are 
liis accomplices ; and according to Esh-Shafe'ee, a Muslim, though 
a slave, is not to be put to death for killing an infidel, though the 
latter be free. In the present day, however, murder is generally 
punished with death, the government seldom allowing a com- 
position in money to be made. A man who kills another in self- 
defence, or to defend his property from a robber, is exempt from 
all punishment. The price of blood is a debt incumbent on the 
family, tribe, or association of which the homicide is a member. 
It is also incumbent on the inhabitants of an enclosed quarter, 
or the proprietor or proprietors of a field, in which the body 
of a person killed by an unknown hand is found, unless the per- 
son has been found killed in his own house. A woman, con- 


victed of a capital crime, is generally jjut to death by drowning 
in the Nile. 

The Bedawees have made the law of the avengins; of Ijlood 
terribly severe and unjust, transgressing the limits assigned by the 
Kur-an ; for, with them, any single person descended from the 
homicide, or from the homicide's father, grandfather, great- 
grandfather, or great-grandfather's father, may be killed by any 
of such relations of the person murdei'ed or killed in fight ; but 
among most tribes the fine is generally accepted instead of the 
blood. Cases of blood -revenge are very common among the 
peasantry of Egypt, who, as I have before remarked, retain many 
customs of their Bedawee ancestors. The relations of a person 
who has been killed, in an Egyptian village, generally retaliate 
with their own hands rather than apply to the government, and 
often do so with disgusting cruelty, and even mangle and insult 
the corpse of their victim. The relations of a homicide usually fly 
from their own to another village for protection. Even when 
retaliation has been made, animosity frequently continues be- 
tween the two parties for many years ; and often a case of blood- 
revenge involves the inhabitants of two or more A'illages in 
hostilities, which are renewed at intervals during the period of 
several generations. 

Retaliation for intentional loounds and mutilations is allowed, 
like as for murder — "eye for eye," etc.; but a fine may be 
accepted instead, which the law allows also for unintentional in- 
juries. The fine for a member that is single (as the nose) is the 
whole price of blood, as for homicide ; for a member of which 
there are two and not more (as a hand), half the price of blood ; 
for one of which there are ten (a finger or toe), a tenth of the 
price of blood. But the fine of a man for maiming or wounding a 
woman is half of that for the same injury to a man ; and that of 
a free person for injuring a slave varies according to the value of 
the slave. The fine for depriving a man of any of his five senses, 
or dangerously wounding him, or grievously disfiguring him for 
life, is the whole price of blood. 

Theft, whether committed by a man or by a woman, according 
to the Kur-an, is to be punished by cutting off" the offender's right 
hand for the first offence ; but a Sunneh law ordains that this 


punishment shall not be inflicted if the value of the stolen pro- 
perty is less than a quarter of a deenar ; and it is also held neces- 
sary, to render the thief obnoxious to this jDunishment, that the 
propei-ty stolen should have been deposited in a place to -svhich he 
had not ordinary or easy access : whence it follows that a man 
who steals in the house of a near relation is not subject to this 
punishment, nor is a slave who robs the house of his master. For 
the second offence, the left foot is to be cut oflT; for the third, 
according to the Shafe'ee law, the left hand ; for the fourth, the 
right foot ; and for further offences of the same kind, the culprit 
is to be flogged or beaten : or, by the Hanafee code, for the third 
and subsequent offences the criminal is to be punished by a long 
imprisonment. A man may steal a free-born infant "SA'ithout 
offending against the law, because it is not property ; but not a 
slave : and the hand is not to be cut off for stealing any article of 
food that is quickly perishable, because it may have been taken to 
supply the immediate demands of hunger. There are also some 
other cases in which the thief is exemjit from the punishments 
above mentioned. In Egypt, of late years, these punishments 
have not been inflicted. Beating and hard labour have been sub- 
stituted for the first, second, or third offence, and frequently death 
for the fourth. Most petty offences are usually punished by beat- 
ing with the " kurbag " (a thong or whip of hippopotamus' hide, 
hammered into a round form), or with a stick, generally on the 
soles of the feet. 

Adultery is most severely visited ; but to establish a charge of 
this crime against a wife, four eye-witnesses are necessary. If con- 
victed thus, she is to be put to death by stoning. (See Lev. xx. 10 ; 
John viii. 4, 5.) I need scarcely say that cases of this kind have 
very seldom occurred, from the difficulty of obtaining such testi- 
mony. Further laws on this .subject, and still more favourable to 
the women, are given in the Kur-an in the following words : — " But 
[as to] those who accuse women of reputation [of fornication or 
adultery], and produce not four witnesses [of the fact], scourge 
them with eighty stripes, and receive not their testimony for ever ; 
for such ai-e infamous prevaricators : excepting those who shall 
afterwards repent ; for God is gracious and merciful. They who 
shall accuse their wives [of adultery], and shall have no witnesses 


[thereof] besides themselves, the testimony [which shall be required] 
of one of them, [shall be] that he swear four times by God that he 
speaketh the truth, and the fifth [time that he imprecate] the 
curse of God on him if he be a liar ; and it shall avert the punish- 
ment [of the wife] if she swear four times by God that he is a liar, 
and if the fifth [time she imprecate] the wrath of God on her if he 
speak the truth." The commentators and lawyers have agreed 
that under these circumstances the marriage must be dissolved. 
In the chapter from which the above quotation is made, it is 
ordained (in verse 2) that unmarried persons convicted of fornica- 
tion shall be punished by scourging, with a hundred stripes ; and 
a Sunneh law renders them obnoxious to the further punishment 
of banishment for a whole year. Of the punishment of women 
convicted of incontinence in Cairo I shall speak in the next 
chapter, as it is an arbitrary act of the government, not founded 
'on the laws of the Kur-an or the Traditions. 

Drunl^enness was punished by the Prophet by flogging ; and is 
still in Cairo, though not often. The "hadd," or number of 
stripes for this offence, is eighty in the case of a free man, and 
forty in that of a slave. 

Apostasy from the faith of El-Islam is considei'ed a most 
heinous sin, and must be punished with death, unless the apostate 
will recant on being thrice warned. I once saw a woman pai'aded 
through the streets of Cairo, and afterwards taken down to the 
Nile to be drowned, for having apostatized from the faith of 
Mohammad, and having married a Christian. Unfortunately, she 
had tattooed a blue cross on her arm, which led to her detection 
by one of her former friends in a bath. She was mounted upon 
a high-saddled ass, such as ladies in Egypt usually ride, and very 
respectably dressed, attended by soldiers, and surrounded by a 
rabble, who, instead of commiserating, uttered loud imprecations 
against her. The Kadee who passed sentence upon her exhorted 
her in vain to return to her former faith. Her own father was 
her accuser ! She was taken in a boat into the midst of the river, 
stripped nearly naked, strangled, and then thrown into the stream. 
The Europeans residing in Cairo regretted that the Basha was 
then at Alexandria, as they might have prevailed upon him to 
pardon her. Once before, they interceded with him for a M-oman 


who had been condemned for apostasy. The Basha ordered that 
she should be brought before him. He exhorted her to recant ; 
but finding her resolute, reproved her for her folly, and sent her 
home, commanding that no injury should be done to her. 

Still more severe is the law with respect to hlaspheimj. The 
person who utters blasphemy against God, or Mohammad, or 
Christ, or Moses, or any prophet, is to be put to death without 
delay, even though he profess himself repentant ; repentance for 
such a sin being deemed impossible. Apostasy or infidelity is 
occasioned by misjudgment, but blasphemy is the result of utter 

A few words may here be added respecting the sect of the 
" Wahhabees," also called " Wahabees," which was founded less 
than a century ago by Mohammad Ibn-'Abd-El-Wahhab, a pious 
and learned sheykh of the province of En-Nejd, in Central Arabia. 
About the middle of the last century, he had the good fortune to 
convert to his creed a powerful chief of Ed-Dir'eeyeh, the capital 
of En-Nejd. This chief, Mohammad Ibn-So'ood, became the sove- 
i-eign of the new sect — their religious and political head — and 
under him and his successors the Wahhabee doctrines were spread 
throughout the greater part of Arabia. He was first succeeded 
by his son, Abd-El-'Azeez ; next, by So'ood, the son of the latter, 
and tlie greatest of the Wahhabee leaders ; and lastly, by 'Abd- 
Allah, the son of this So'ood, who, after an arduous warfare with 
the armies of Mohammad 'Alee, surrendered himself to his vic- 
torious enemies, was sent to Egypt, thence to Constantinople, and 
there beheaded. The wars which Mohammad 'Alee carried on 
against the Wahhabees had for their chief object the destruction 
of the political power of the new sect. Their religious tenets are 
still professed by many of the Arabs, and allowed to be orthodox 
by the most learned of the 'Ulama of Egypt. The Wahhabees 
are merely reformers, who believe all the fundamental points of 
El-Islam, and all the accessory doctrines of the Kur-an and the 
Traditions of the Prophet. In short, their tenets are those of 
the primitive Muslims. They disapprove of gorgeous sepulchres 
and domes erected over tombs ; such they invariably destroy when 
in their power. They also condemn, as idolaters, those who pay 
peculiar veneration to deceased saints ; and even declare all other 


Muslims to be heretics for the extra^"agant respect which they pay 
to the Prophet. They forbid the wearing of silk and gold orna- 
ments and all costly apparel, and also the practice of smoking 
tobacco. For the want of this last luxury, they console them- 
selves in some degree by an immoderate use of coffee. There 
are many learned men among them, and they have collected many 
valuable books (chiefly historical) from various parts of Arabia 
and from Egypt. 


G O V E R X M E N T. 

Egypt has, of late years, experienced great political changes, and 
nearly ceased to be a province of the Turkish Empire. Its pre- 
sent Basha (Mohammad 'Alee), having exterminated the Ghuzz, 
or Memlooks, who shared the government with his predecessors, 
has rendered himself almost an independent prince. He, how- 
ever, professes allegiance to the Sultan, and remits the tribute, 
according to former custom, to Constantinople ; he is, moreover, 
under an obligation to respect the fundamental laws of the 
Kur-an and the Traditions ; but he exei'cises a dominion otherwise 
unlimited. He may cause any one of his subjects to be put to 
death without the formality of a trial, or without assigning any 
cause : a simple horizontal motion of his hand is sufficient to 
imply the sentence of decapitation. But I must not be undei'- 
stood to insinuate that he is prone to shed blood without any 
reason. Severity is a characteristic of this prince rather than 
wanton cruelty, and boundless ambition has prompted him to 
almost every act by which he has attracted either praise or 



In the Citadel of the metropolis is a court of judicature, called 
" ed-Deewan el-Kliideewee," where, in the Basha's absence, pre- 
sides his " Kikhya," or deputy, Habeeb Efendee. In cases which 
do not fall within the province of the Kadee, or which are suffi- 
ciently clear to be decided without referring them to the court 
of that officer or to another council, the president of the Deewan 
el-Khideewee passes judginent. Numerous guard-houses have 


been established throughout the metropolis, at each of which 
is stationed a body of Nizam, or regular troops. The guard is 
called " Kulluk," or, more commonly at present, " Karak61." 
Persons accused of thefts, assaults, etc., in Cairo are given in 
charge to a soldier of the guard, who takes them to the chief 
guard-house, in the Mooskee, a street in that part of the town in 
wdiich most of the Franks reside. The charges being here stated, 
and committed to writing, he conducts them to the " Zabit," or 
chief magistrate of the police of the metropolis. The Zabit, hav- 
ing heard the case, sends the accused for trial to the Deewan el- 
Khideewee. When a person denies the oftence with which he is 
charged, and there is not sufficient evidence to convict him, but 
some ground of suspicion, he is generally bastinaded, in order to 
induce him to confess ; and then, if not before, wlien the crime 
is not of a nature that renders liim obnoxious to a very heavy 
punishment, he, if guilty, admits it. A thief, after this discipline, 
generally confesses, "The devil seduced me, and I took it." The 
punishment of the convicts is regulated by a system of arbitrary 
but lenient and wise policy : it usually consists in their being 
compelled to labour, for a scanty sustenance, in some of the public 
works, such as the removal of rubbish, digging canals, etc. ; and 
sometimes the army is recruited with able-bodied young men con- 
victed of petty offences. In employing malefactors in labours for 
the improvement of the country, Mohammad 'Alee merits the 
praises bestowed upon Sabacon, the Ethiopian conqueror and 
king of Egypt, who is said to have introduced this policy. The 
Basha is, however, very severe in punishing thefts, etc., committed 
against himself — death is the usual penalty in such cases. 

There are several inferior councils for conducting the affairs 
of different departments of the administration. The principal 
of these are the following : — 1. The " Meglis el-Meshwar'ah " (the 
Council of Deliberation) ; also called " Meglis el-Meshwar'ah el- 
Melekeeyeh " (the Council of Deliberation on the Affairs of the 
State), to distinguish it from other councils. The members of 
this and of the other similar councils are chosen by the Basha for 
their talents or other qualifications, and consequently his will and 
interest sway them in all their decisions. They are his instru- 
ments, and compose a committee for presiding over the general 


government of tlie country, and the commercial and agricultural 
affairs of the Basha. Petitions, etc., addressed to the Basha, or 
to his Deewan, relating to private interests or the affairs of the 
government, are generally submitted to their consideration and 
judgment, unless they more properly come under the cognizance 
of other councils hereafter to be mentioned. 2. The " Meglis 
el-Gihadeeyeh " (the Council of the Army) ; also called " Meglis 
el-Meshwar'ah el-'Askereeyeh " (the Council of Deliberation on 
Military Affairs). The province of this court is sufficiently shown 
by its name. 3. The Council of the " Tarskhaneh " or Navy. 
4. The " Deewan et-Tuggar " (or Court of the Merchants). This 
court, the members of which are merchants of various countries 
and religions, presided over by the " Shah-bandar " (or chief of 
the merchants of Cairo), was instituted in consequence of the 
laws of the Kur-an and the Sunneh being found not sufficiently 
explicit in some cases arising out of modern commercial trans- 

The " Kadee " (or chief judge) of Cairo presides in Egypt only 
a year, at the expiration of which term, a new Kadee having ar- 
rived from Constantinople, the former returns. It was customary 
for this officer to proceed from Cairo with the great caravan of 
pilgrims to Mekkeb, perform the ceremonies of the pilgrimage, 
and remain one year as Kadee of the holy city, and one year at 
El-Medeeneh. He purchases his place privately of the govern- 
ment, which pays no particular regard to his qualifications, though 
he must be a man of some knowledge, an 'Osmanlee (that is, a 
Turk), and of the sect of the Hanafees. His tribunal is called 
the " Mahkem'eh," or Place of Judgment. Few Kadees are very 
well acquainted with the Arabic language ; nor is it necessary 
for them to have such knowledge. In Cairo, the Kadee has little 
or nothing to do but to confirm the sentence of his " Naib " (or 
deputy), who hears and decides the more ordinary cases, and 
whom he chooses from among the 'Ulama of Istambool, or the 
decision of the " Muftee " (or chief doctor of the law) of his own 
sect, who constantly resides in Cairo, and gives judgment in all 
cases of difficulty. But in general the Naib is, at the best, but 
little conversant with the popular dialect of Egypt ; therefore, in 
Cairo, where the chief proportion of the litigants at the Mah- 

G O VERNMENT. 1 2 7 

kem'eh are Arabs, the judge must place the utmost confidence in 
the " Bash Turguman " (or Chief Interpreter), whose place is per- 
manent, and who is consequently well acquainted with all the 
customs of the court, particularly with the system of bribery ; and 
this knowledge he is generally very ready to communicate to 
every new Kadee and Naib. A man may be grossly ignorant of 
the law, and yet hold the office of Kadee of Cairo (several in- 
stances of this kind have occurred) ; but the Na'ib must be a lawyer 
of learning and experience. 

When a person has a suit to prefer at the Mahkem'eh against 
another individual or party, he goes thither, and applies to the 
" Bash Rusul " (or chief of the bailiffs or sergeants who execute 
arrests) for a " Rasool " to arrest the accused. The Rasool re- 
ceives a piaster or two, and generally gives half of this fee 
privately to his chief. The plaintiff and defendant then present 
themselves in the great hall of the Mahkem'eh, which is a large 
saloon, facing a spacious court, and having an open fi'ont formed 
by a row of columns and arches. Here are seated several officers 
called " Shahids," whose business is to hear and write the state- 
ments of the case to be submitted to judgment, and who are 
under the authority of the " Bash Katib " (or Chief Secretary). 
The plaintiff, addressing any one of the Shahids whom he finds 
unoccupied, states his case, and the Shahid commits it to writing, 
and receives a fee of a piaster or more ; after which, if the case be 
of a trifling nature, and the defendant acknowledge the justice of 
the suit, he (the Shahid) passes sentence ; but otherwise he con- 
ducts the two parties before the Kaib, who holds his court in an 
inner apartment. The Naib, having heard the case, desires the 
plaintiff to procure a " fetwa " (or judicial decision) from the 
Muftee of the sect of the Hanafees, who receives a fee — seldom 
less than ten piasters, and often more than a hundred or two 
hundred. This is the course pursued in all cases but those of a 
very trifling nature, which are settled with less trouble, and those 
of great importance or intricacy. A case of the latter kind is 
tried in the private apartment of the Kadee, before the Kadee 
himself, the Naib, and the Muftee of the Hanafees, who is sum- 
moned to hear it, and to give his decision ; and sometimes, in 
cases of very great difficulty or moment, several of the 'Ulama of 


Cairo are, in like manner, summoned. The Muftee hears the 
case and writes his sentence, and the Kadee confirms his judg- 
ment, and stamps the paper with his seal, which is all that he has 
to do in any case. The accused may clear himself by his oath 
when the plaintift" has not witnesses to produce : placing his right 
hand on a copy of the Kur-an, which is held out to him, he says, 
" By God, the Great !" three times, adding, " By what is contained 
in this of the word of God ! " The witnesses must be men of good 
repute, or asserted to be such, and not interested in the cause. In 
every case at least two witnesses are requisite* (or one man and 
two women); and each of these must be attested to be a person 
of probity by two others. An infidel cannot bear witness against 
a Muslim in a case involving capital or other heavy punishment ; 
and evidence in favour of a son or grandson, or of a father or 
grandfather, is not received ; nor is the testimony of slaves ; 
neither can a master testify in favour of his slave. 

The fees, until lately, used to be paid by tlie successful party ; 
but now they are paid by the other party. The Kadee's fees for 
decisions in cases respecting the sale of property are two per 
cent, on the amount of the property ; in cases of legacies, four 
per cent, excepting when the heir is an orphan not of age, who 
pays only two per cent. ; for decisions respecting property in 
houses or land, when the cost of the property in question is 
known, his fees ai'e two per cent. ; but when the cost is not 
known, one year's rent. These are the legitimate fees ; but more 
than the due amount is often exacted. In cases which do not 
concern property, the Kddee's Ndib fixes the amount of the fees. 
There are also other fees than those of the Kadee to be paid after 
the decision of the case. For instance, if the Kadee's fees be two 
or three hundred piasters, a fee of about two piasters must be paid 
to the Bash Turguman ; about the same to the Bash Rusul ; and 
one piaster to the Rasool, or to each Rasool employed. 

The rank of a plaintiff" or defendant, or a bribe from either, 
often influences the decision of the judge. In general the Naib 
and Muftee take bribes, and the Kadee receives from his Naib. 
On some occasions, particularly in long litigations, bribes are 

* This law is borrowed from tlie .Tews : see Deut six. 15. A man may refuse to give 
his testimony. 

G O VERNMENT. 1 2 9 

given by each party, and the decision is awarded in favour of him 
who pays highest. This frequently happens in difficult law-suits ; 
and even in cases respecting which the law is perfectly clear, 
strict justice is not always administered, bribes and false testi- 
mony being employed by one of the parties. The shocking ex- 
tent to which the practices of bribery and suborning false witnesses 
are carried in Muslim courts of law, and among them in the tri- 
bunal of the Kadee of Cairo, may be scarcely credited on the bare 
assertion of the fact. .Some strong proof, resting on indubitable 
authority, may be demanded ; and here I shall give such proof in 
a summary of a case which was tried not long since, and Avhich 
was related to me by the Secretary and Imam of the Sheykh El- 
Mahdee, who was then supreme Muftee of Cairo (l)eing the chief 
Muftee of the Hanafees), and to whom this case was referred 
after judgment in the Kadee's court. 

A Turkish merchant, residing at Cairo, died, leaving property 
to the amount of six thousand purses (about £40,000), and no 
relation to inherit but one daughter. The seyyid Mohammad El- 
Mahrookee, the Shah-bandar (chief of the merchants of Cairo), 
hearing of this event, suborned a common fellah, who was the bow- 
wab (or door-keeper) of a respected sheykh, and whose parents 
(both of them Arabs) were known to many persons, to assert himself 
a son of a brother of the deceased. The ease was brought before the 
Kadee, and as it was one of considerable importance, several of the 
principal 'Ulama of the city were summoned to decide it. They 
were all bribed or influenced by EI-Mahrookee, as will presently 
be shown. False witnesses were brought forward to swear to the 
truth of the bowwab's pretensions, and others to give testimony 
to the good character of these witnesses. Three thousand purses 
were adjudged to tlie daughter of the deceased, and the other half 
of the property to the bowwab. El-Mahrookee received the share 
of the latter, deducting only three hundred piasters, which he 
presented to the bowwab. The chief Muftee, El-Mahdee, was 
absent from Cairo when the case was tried. On his return to 
the metropolis, a few days after, the daughter of the deceased 
merchant repaired to his house, stated her case to him, and 
earnestly solicited redress. The Muftee, though convinced of the 
injustice which she had suffered, and not doubting the truth of 

(440) 9 


what she related respecting the part which El-Mahrookee had 
taken in this affair, told her that he feared it was impossible for 
him to annul the judgment, unless there were some informality in 
the proceedings of the court, but that he would look at the record 
of the case in the register of the Mahkem'eh. Having done this, 
he betook himself to the Basha, with whom he was in great favour 
for his knowledge and inflexible integrity, and complained to him 
that the tribunal of the Kadee was disgraced by the administration 
of the most flagrant injustice \ that false witness was admitted by 
the 'Ulama, however evident and glaring it might be ; and that a 
judgment which they had given in a late case during his absence 
was the general talk and wonder of the town. The Basha sum- 
moned the Kadee and all the 'Ulama Avho had tried this case to 
meet the Muftee in the Citadel ; and when they had assembled 
there, addressed them, as from himself, with the Muftee's com- 
plaint. The Kadee appearing, like the 'Ulama, highly indignant 
at this charge, demanded to know upon what it was grounded. 
The Basha replied that it was a general charge, but particularly 
grounded on the case in which the court had admitted the claim 
of a bowwab to a relationship and inheritance wliich they could 
not believe to be his right. The Kadee here urged that he had 
passed sentence in accordance with the unanimous decision of the 
'Ulama then present. " Let the record of the case be read," said 
the Basha. The journal being sent for, this was done ; and when 
the secretaiy had finished reading the minutes, the Kadee, in a 
loud tone of proud authority, said, " And I judged so." The Muf- 
tee, in a louder and more authoritative tone, exclaimed, " And 
thy judgment is false !" All eyes were fixed in astonishment, now 
at the Muftee, now at the Basha, now at the other 'Ulama. The 
Kadee and the 'Ulama rolled their heads and stroked their beards. 
The former exclaimed, tapping his breast, "I, the Kadee of 
Misr, pass a false sentence !" " And we," said the 'Ulama, " we, 
Sheykh Mahdee ! we, 'Ulama el-Islam, give a false decision ! " 
" O Sheykh Mahdee," said El-Mahrookee (who, from his com- 
mercial transactions with the Basha, could generally obtain a 
place in his councils), " respect the 'Ulama as they respect 
thee ! " " O Mahrookee ! " exclaimed the Muftee, " art thou con- 
cerned in this affair? Declare Avhat part thou hast in it, or else 


hold thy peace. Go, speak in the assemblies of the merchants, 
but presume not again to open thy mouth in the council of the 
'Ulama ! " El-Mahrookee immediately left the palace, for he saw 
how the affair would terminate, and had to make his arrangements 
accordingly. The Muftee was now desired by the other 'Ulama 
to adduce a proof of the invalidity of their decision. Drawing 
from his bosom a small book on the laws of inheritance, he read 
from it : "To establish a claim to relationship and inheritance, 
the names of the father and mother of the claimant, and those of 
his father's father and mother, and of his mother's father and 
mother, must be ascertained." The names of the father and 
mother of the pretended father of the bowwab the false wit- 
nesses had not been prepared to give; and this deficiency in 
the testimony (whicli the 'Ulama in trying tlie case purposely 
overlooked) now caused the sentence to be annulled. The bow- 
wab was brought before the council, and denying the imposition 
of which he had been made the principal instrument, was, by 
order of the Basha, very severely bastinaded ; but the only con- 
fession that could be drawn from him by the torture which he 
endured was that he had received nothing more of the three 
thousand than three hundred piasters. Meanwhile, El- 
Mahrookee had repaired to the bowwab's master. He told the 
latter what had liappened at the Citadel, and what he had foreseen 
would be the result, put into his hand three thousand purses, and 
begged him immediately to go to the council, give this sum of 
money, and say that it had been placed in his hands in trust by 
his servant. This was done, and the money was paid to the 
daughter of the deceased. 

In another case, when the Kadee and the council of the 'Ulama 
were influenced in their decision by a Basha (not Mohammad 
'Alee), and passed a sentence contrary to law, they were thwarted 
in the same manner by El-Mahdee. This Muftee was a rare 
example of integrity. It is said that he never took a fee for a 
fetwa. He died shortly after my first visit to this country. I 
could mention several other glaring cases of bribery in the court 
of the Kadee of Cairo, but the above is sufficient. 

Tliere are five minor Mahkem'ehs in Cairo, and likewise one 
at its pri]icipal port, Boolak, and one at its southern port, Masr 


El-'Ateekah. A Shahid from the great Mahkem'eh presides at 
each of them, as deputy of the chief Kadee, who confirms their 
acts. The matters submitted to these minor tribunals are chiefly 
respecting the sales of property, and legacies, marriages, and 
divorces : for the Kadee marries female orphans under age who 
have no relations of age to act as their guardians ; and wives 
often have recourse to law to compel their husbands to divorce 
them. In every country town there is also a Kadee, generally 
a native of the place, and never a Turk, Avho decides all cases, 
sometimes from his own knoAvledge of the law, but commonly on 
the authority of a Muftee. One Kadee generally serves for two 
or three or more villages. 

Each of the four orthodox sects of the Muslims (the Hanafees, 
Sliafe'ees, Malikees, and Hambel'ees) has its " Sheykh," or re- 
ligious chief, who is chosen from among the most learned of the 
body, and resides in the metropolis. The Sheykh of the great 
mosque El-Azhar (who is always of the sect of the Shafe'ees, and 
sometimes Sheykh of that sect), together with the other Sheykhs 
above mentioned, and the Kadee, the Nakeeb el-Ashraf (the 
chief of the Shereefs, or descendants of the Prophet), and several 
other persons, constitute the council of the 'Ulama (or learned 
men), by whom the Turkish Bashas and Memlook chiefs have 
often been kept in awe, and by whom their tyranny has frequently 
been restricted ; but now this learned body has lost almost all its 
influence over the government. Petty disputes are often, by 
mutual consent of the parties at variance, submitted to the judg- 
ment of one of the four Sheykhs first mentioned, as they are the 
chief Muftees of their respective sects ; and the utmost deference 
is always paid to them. Difticult and delicate causes, which 
concern the laws of the Kur-an or the Traditions, are also 
frequently referred by the Basha to these Sheykhs; but their 
opinion is not always followed by him. For instance, after con- 
sulting them respecting the legality of dissecting human bodies, 
for the sake of acquiring anatomical knowledge, and receiving 
their declaration that it was repugnant to the laws of the religion, 
he, nevertheless, has caused it to be practised by Muslim students 

of anatomy. 

The police of the metropolis is more under the direction of the 


military than of the civil power. A few years ago it was under 
the authority of the " Walee " and the " Zabit ;" but since my 
tirst visit to this country the office of the former has been abolished. 
He was charged with the apprehension of thieves and other 
criminals \ and under his jurisdiction were the public women, of 
whom he kept a list, and from each of whom he exacted a tax. 
He also took cognizance of the conduct of the women in general, 
and when he found a female to have been guilty of a single act 
of incontinence he added her name to the list of the public 
women, and demanded from her the tax, unless she preferred, or 
could afford, to escape that ignominy by giving to him or to his 
officers a considerable bribe. This course was always pursued, 
and is still, by a person Avho farms the tax of the public women, 
in the case of unmarried females, and generally in the case of the 
married also ; but the latter are sometimes privately put to death, 
if they cannot, by bribery or some other artifice, save themselves. 
Such proceedings are, however, in two points contrary to the law, 
which oi'dains that a person who accuses a woman of adultery or 
fornication, without producing four witnesses of the crime, shall 
be scourged with eighty stripes, and decrees other punishments 
than those of degradation and tribute against women convicted of 
such offences. 

The office of the Zabit has before been mentioned. He is now 
the chief of the police. His officers, who have no distinguishing 
mark to render them known as such, are interspersed through 
the metropolis. They often visit the coffee-shops, and observe 
the conduct, and listen to the conversation, of the citizens. 
Many of them are pardoned thieves. They accompany the mili- 
tary guards in their nightly rounds through the streets of the 
metropolis. Here none but the blind are allowed to go out at 
night later than about an hour and a half after sunset, without 
a lantern or a light of some kind. Few persons are seen in the 
streets later than two or three hours after sunset. At the fifth or 
sixth hour one might pass through the whole length of the metro- 
polis and scarcely meet more than a dozen or twenty persons, 
excepting the watchmen and guards, and the porters at the gates 
of the by-streets and quarters. The sentinel, or guard, calls out 
to the ap]iroaching passenger, in Turkish, " Who is that ?" and 


is answered in Arabic, "A citizen." The jirivate watchman, in 
the same case, exclaims, " Attest the unity of God !" or merely, 
"Attest the unity !" The reply given to this is, "There is no 
deity but God !" which Christians, as well as Muslims, object 
not to say ; the former understanding these words in a different 
sense from the latter. It is supposed that a thief or a j)erson 
bound on any unlawful undertaking would not dare to utter these 
words. Some persons loudly exclaim, in reply to the summons 
of the watchman, " There is no deity but God : Mohammad is 
God's Apostle." The private watchmen are employed to guard 
by night the sooks (or market-streets) and other districts of the 
town. They carry a nebboot (or long staff), but no lantern. 

The Zabit, or A'gha of the police, used frequently to go about 
the metropolis by night, often accompanied only by the execu- 
tioner and the " shealeg'ee," or bearer of a kind of torch called 
'• shealeh," which is still in use. This torch burns, soon after it 
is lighted, without a flame, excepting when it is waved thi'ough 
the air, when it suddenly blazes forth j it therefore answers the 
same purpose as our dark lantern. The burning end is sometimes 
concealed in a small pot or jar, or covered with something else, 
when not required to give light ; but it is said that thieves often 
smell it in time to escape meeting the bearer. When a person 
without a light is met by the police at night, he seldom attemj)ts 
resistance or flight : the punishment to which he is liable is beat- 
ing. The chief of the police had an arbitraiy power to put any 
criminal or offender to death without trial, and when not obnoxious, 
by law, to capital punishment; and so also had many inferior 
officers, as will be seen in subsequent pages of this work ; but 
within the last two or three years instances of the exercise of such 
power have been very rai^e, and I believe they would not now be 
permitted. The oflScers of the Zabit pei'form their nightly rounds 
with the niilitary guards merely as being better acquainted than 
the latter with the haunts and practices of thieves and other bad 
characters ; and the Zabit himself scarcely ever exercises any 
penal authority beyond that of beating or flogging. 

Veiy curious measures, such as we read of in some of the tales 
of "The Thousand and One Nights," wei'e often adopted by the 
police magistrates of Cairo, to discover an offender, before the late 

G O VERNMENT. 1 3 5 

iiuiovations. I may mention an instance. The authenticity of the 
following case, and of several others of a similar nature, is well 
knowui. I shall relate it in the manner in which I have heard it 
told. A poor man applied one day to the A'gha of the police, 
and said, " Sir, there came to me to-day a woman, and she said 
to me, ' Take this " kurs," and let it remain in your possession for 
a time, and lend me five hundred piasters ; ' and I took it from 
her, sir, and gave her the five hundred piasters, and she went 
away. And when she was gone away, I said to myself, ' Let me 
look at this kui's ; ' and I looked at it, and behold, it was yellow 
brass. And I slapped my face, and said, ' I will go to the A'gha, 
and relate my story to him ; perhaps he will investigate the affaii*, 
and clear it up ; ' for thei'e is none that can help me in this matter 
but thou." The A'gha said to him, "Hear what I tell thee, man. 
Take whatever is in thy shop, leave nothing, and lock it up ; 
and to-moiTow morning go early, and when thou hast opened the 
shop, cry out, ' Alas for my property ! ' Then take in thy hands 
two clods, and beat thyself with them, and cry, ' Alas for the 
property of others ! ' And whoever says to thee, ' What is the 
matter with thee % ' do thou answer, ' The property of others is 
lost ; a pledge that I had, belonging to a woman, is lost : if it 
were my own, I should not thus lament it ; ' and this will clear 
up the affair." The man promised to do as he was desired. He 
removed everything from his shop, and early the next morning he 
went and opened it, and began to cry out, "Alas for the property 
of others ! " And he took two clods, and beat himself with them, 
and went about every district of the city, crying, "Alas for the 
proj)erty of others ! a pledge that I had, belonging to a woman, 
is lost; if it were my own, I should not thus lament it." The 
woman who had given him the kurs in pledge heard of this, and 
discovered that it was the man whom she had cheated ; so she 
said to herself, "Go and bring an action against him." She went 
to his shop, riding on an ass, to give herself consequence, and said 
to him, "Man, give me my property that is in thy possession." 
He answered, "It is lost." "Thy tongue be cut out ! " she cried ; 
" dost thou lose my property 1 By Allah ! I will go to the A'gha, 
and inform him of it." " Go," said he; and she went and told her 
case. The A'gha sent for the man, and when he had come said 


to his accuser, " What is thy property in his possession % " She 
answered, "A kurs of red Venetian gold." "Woman," said the 
A'gha, " I have a gold kurs here ; I should like to show it thee." 
She said, " Show it me, sir, for I shall know my kurs." The 
A'gha then untied a handkerchief, and taking out of it the kurs 
which she had given in pledge, said, "Look." She looked at it 
and knew it, and hung down her head. The A'gha said, "Raise 
thy head, and say where are the five hundred piasters of this 
man." She answered, "Sir, they are in my house." The execu- 
tioner was sent with her to her house, but without his sword ; 
and the woman, having gone into the house, brought out a purse 
containing the money, and went back with him. The money was 
given to the man from whom it had been obtained, and the execu- 
tioner was then ordered to take the woman to the Rumeyleh (a 
large open place below the Citadel), and there to behead her ; 
which he did. 

The markets of Cairo, and the weights and measures, ai'e under 
the iiaspection of an officer called the "Mohtes'ib." He occa- 
sionally rides about the town, preceded by an officer who carries a 
large pair of scales, and followed by the executioners and numer- 
ous other servants. Passing by shops, or through the markets, 
he orders each shopkeeper, one after another, or sometimes only 
one here and there, to produce his scales, weights, and measures, 
and tries whether they be correct. He also inquires the prices of 
provisions at the shops where such aii:,icles are sold. Often, too, 
he stops a servant, or other passenger in the street, wliom he may 
chance to meet carrying any article of food that he. has just 
bought, and asks him for what sum, or at what weight, he pur- 
chased it. When he finds that a shopkeeper has incorrect scales, 
weights, or measures, or that he has sold a thing deficient in 
weight, or above the regular market price, he punislies him on the 
spot. The general punishment is beating or flogging. Once I 
saw a man tormented in a different way, for selling bread deficient 
in weight. A hole was bored through liis nose, and a cake of 
bread, about a span wide, and a finger's breadth in thickness, was 
suspended to it by a piece of string. He was stripped naked, 
with the exception of having a piece of linen about his loins, and 
tied, with his arms bound behind him, to the bars of a window of 

G O VERNMENT. 1 3 7 

a mosque called tlie Aslirafeeyeh, in the main street of the metro- 
polis, his feet resting upon the sill. He remained thus about 
three hours, exposed to the gaze of the multitude which thronged 
the street, and to the scorching rays of the sun. 

A person who was appointed Mohtes'ib shortly after my former 
visit to this country (Mustafa Kashif, a Kurd) exercised his power 
in a most bi'utal manner, clipping men's ears (that is, cutting off 
the lobe or ear-lap), not only for the most trifling transgression, 
but often for no offence whatever. He once met an old man 
driving along several asses laden with water-melons, and pointing 
to one of the largest of these fruits, asked its price. The old man 
put his finger and thuml) to his ear-lap, and said, " Cut it, sir." 
He was asked again and again, and gave the same answer. The 
Mohtes'ib, angry, but unable to refrain from laughing, said, 
"Fellow, ai'e you mad or deaf?" "No," replied the old man, 
"I am neither mad nor deaf ; but I know that if I were to say 
the price of the melon is ten faddahs, you would say, ' Clip his 
ear ; ' and if I said jive faddahs, or one faddah, you would say, 
'Clip his ear:' therefore clip it at once, and let me pass on." 
His humour saved him. Clipping ears was the usual punishment 
inflicted by this Mohtes'ib ; but sometimes he tortured in a difter- 
ent manner. A butcher, who had sold some meat wanting two 
ounces of its due weight, he punished by cutting off two ounces 
of flesh from his back. A seller of " kunafeh " (a kind of paste 
resembling vermicelli) having made his customers pay a trifle 
more than was just, he caused him to be stripped, and seated 
upon the round copper tray on which the kunafeh was baked, and 
kept so until he was dreadfully burnt. He generally punished 
dishonest butchers by putting a hook through their nose, and 
hanging a piece of meat to it. Meeting one day a man carrying 
a large crate full of earthen water-bottles from Semennood, which 
he offered for sale as made at Kine, he caused his attendants to 
break each bottle separately against the vendor's head. Mustafa 
Kashif also exercised his tyranny in other cases than those which 
properly fell under his jurisdiction. He once took a fancy to 
send one of his horses to a bath, and desired the keeper of a bath 
in his neighbourhood to prepare for receiving it, and to wash it 
well, and make its coat very smooth. The bathkeeper, annoyed 


at so extraordinary a command, ventured to suggest that, as the 
pavements of the bath were of marble, the horse might slip and 
fall ; and also, that it might take cold on going out ; and that it 
would therefore be better for him to convey to the stable the 
contents of the cistern of the bath in buckets, and there to per- 
form the operation. Mustafa Kashif said, " I see how it is : you 
do not like that my horse should go into your bath." He desired 
some of his servants to throw him down, and beat him with staves 
until he should tell them to stop. They did so, and beat the 
poor man till he died. 

A few years ago there used to be carried before the Mohtes'ib, 
when going his rounds to examine the weights and measui'es, etc., 
a pair of scales larger than that used at present. Its beam, it is 
said, was a hollow tube, containing some quicksilver ; by means 
of which the bearer, knowing those persons who had bribed his 
master, and those who had not, easily made either scale prepon- 

As the Mohtes'ib is the overseer of the public' markets, so 
there are officers who have a similar charge in superintending each 
branch of the Basha's trade and manufactures ; and some of these 
persons have been known to perpetrate most abominable acts of 
tyranny and cruelty. One of this class, who was named 'Alee 
Bey, " Nazir el-Kuraash " (or Overseer of the Linen), when he 
found a person in possession of a private loom, or selling the pro- 
duce of such a loom, generally bound him up in a piece of his 
linen soaked in oil and tar, then suspended him, thus enveloped, 
to a branch of a tree, and set light to the wrapper. After having 
destroyed a number of men in this horrible manner, he was him- 
self, among many others, burnt to death, by the explosion of a 
powder-magazine on the noi'thern slope of the Citadel of Caii'o, in 
1824, the year before my fii'st annval in Egypt. A friend of 
mine, who spoke to me of the atrocities of this monster, added : 
" When his corpse was taken to be buried, the Sheykh El-Aroosee 
(who was Sheykh of the great mosqxae El-Azhar) recited the 
funeral prayers over it, in the mosque of the Hasaneyn ; and I 
acted as muballigh (to repeat the words of the Imam). When 
the Sheykh uttered the words, ' Give your testimony respecting 
him,' and when I had repeated them, no one of all the persons 


present, and they were many, presumed to give the answer, ' He 
was of the virtuous ; ' all were silent. To make the circumstance 
more glaring, I said again, ' Give your testimony respecting him ; ' 
but not an answer was heard, and the Sheykh, in confusion, said, 
but in a very low voice, ' May God have mercy upon him.' Now 
we may certainly say of this cursed man," continued my friend, 
" that he is gone to hell ; yet his wife is constantly having ' khat- 
mehs ' (recitations of the Kur-an) performed in her house for him, 
and lights two wax candles for his sake every evening at the 
niche of the mosque of the Hasaneyn." 

Every quarter in the metropolis has its sheykh, called " Sheykh 
el-Harah," whose influence is exerted to maintain order, to settle 
any trifling disputes among the inhabitants, and to expel those 
who disturb the peace of their neighbours. The whole of the 
metropolis is also divided into eight districts, over each of which 
is a sheykh, called "Sheykh et-Tumn." 

The members of various trades and manufactures in the metro- 
polis and other large towns have also their resjiective sheykhs, to 
whom all disputes respecting matters connected with those trades 
or crafts are submitted for arbitration, and whose sanction is re- 
quired for the admission of new members. 

The servants in the metropolis are likewise under the authority 
of particular sheykhs. Any person in want of a servant may 
procure one by applying to one of these ofiicers, who, for a small 
fee (two or three piasters), becomes responsible for the conduct 
of the man whom he recommends. Should a servant so engaged 
rob his master, the latter gives information to the sheykh, who, 
whether he can recover the stolen property or not, must indem- 
nify the master. 

Even the common thieves used, not many years since, to 
respect a superior, who was called their sheykh. He was often 
required to search for stolen goods, and to bring offenders to 
justice, which he generally accomplished. It is very remarkable 
that the same strange system prevailed among the ancient Egyp- 

The Coptic Patriarch, who is the head of his church, judges 
})etty causes among his people in the metropolis, and the inferior 
clergy do the same in other places ; but an appeal may be made 


to the Kadee. A Muslim aggrieved by a Copt may demand jus- 
tice from the Patriarch or the Kadee ; a Copt who seeks redress 
from a Muslim must apply to the Kadee. The Jews are similarly 
circumstanced. The Fi-anks, or Europeans in general, are not 
answerable to any other authority than that of their respective 
consuls, excepting when they are aggressors against a Muslim ; 
they are then surrendered to the Turkish authorities, who, on the 
other hand, will render justice to the Frank who is aggrieved by 
a Muslim. 

The inhabitants of the country towns and villages are under 
the government of Turkish officers and of their own countrymen. 
The whole of Egypt is divided into several large provinces, each 
of which is governed by an 'Osmanlee (or a Turk) ; and these 
provinces are slibdivided into districts, which are governed by 
native officers, with the titles of " Mamoor and Nazir." Every 
village, as well as town, has also its sheykh, called " Sheykh el- 
Beled," who is one of the native Muslim inhabitants. All the 
officers above mentioned, excepting the last, were formerly Turks ; 
and there were other Turkish governors of small districts, who 
were called "Kashifs" and " Kaim-makdms." The change was 
made very shortly before my pi'esent visit to this country, and the 
fellaheen complain that their condition is worse than it was be- 
fore ; but it is genei'ally from the tyranny of their great Tuilcish 
governors that they suffer most sevei'ely. 

The following case will convey some idea of the condition of 
Egyptian peasants in some provinces. A Turk, infamous for 
many barbarous acts, presiding at the town of Tanta, in the 
Delta, went one night to the government granary of that town, 
and finding two peasants sleeping there, asked them who they 
were, and what was their business in that place. One of them 
said that he had brought 130 ardebbs of corn from a village of 
the district ; and the other, that he had brought 60 ardebbs from 
the land belonging to the town. " You rascal ! " said the gover- 
nor to the latter ; "this man brings 130 ardebbs from the lands 
of a small village, and you but 60 from the lands of the town." 
"This man," answered the peasant of Tanta, "brings corn but 
once a week, and I am now bringing it every day." "Be silent!" 
said the governor, and pointing to a neighbouring tree, he 


ordered one of tlie servants of the granary to hang the peasant to 
one of its branches. The order was obeyed, and the governor 
returned to his house. The next morning he went again to the 
granary, and saw a man bringing in a large quantity of corn. He 
asked who he was, and what quantity he had brought ; and was 
answered, by the hangman of the preceding night, " This is the 
man, sir, whom I hanged by your orders last night ; and he has 
brought 160 ard ebbs." "What!" exclaimed the governor, "has 
he risen from the dead?" He was answered, " ISTo, sir ; I hanged 
him so that his toes touched the ground ; and wlien you were 
gone, I untied the rope. You did not order me to hill him." The 
Turk muttered, " Aha ! hanging and killing are different things. 
Ai'abic is copious. Next time I will say kill. Take care of Aboo- 
Da-ood." This is his nickname. 

Another occurrence may here be aptly related, as a further 
illusti'ation of the nature of the government to which the people 
of Egypt are subjected. A fellah, who was appointed Nazir (or 
governor) of the district of El-Manoofeeyeh (the southernmost 
district of the Delta), a short time before my present visit to 
Egypt, in collecting the taxes at a village, demanded of a poor 
peasant the sum of sixty riyals (ninety faddahs each, making a 
sum total of a hundred and thirty-five piasters, which was then 
equivalent to about thirty shillings). The poor man urged that 
he possessed nothing but a cow, which barely afforded sustenance 
to himself and his family. Instead of pursuing the method usually 
followed when a fellah declares himself unable to pay the tax 
demanded of him, which is to give him a severe bastinading, the 
ISTazir, in this case, sent the Sheykh el-Beled to bring the poor 
peasant's cow, and desired some of the fellaheen to buy it. They 
saying that they had not sufficient money, he sent for a butcher 
and desired him to kill the cow, which was done ; he then told 
him to divide it into sixty pieces. The butcher asked for his 
pay, and was given the head of the cow. Sixty fellaheen were 
then called together, and each of them was compelled to purchase, 
for a riyal, a piece of the cow. The owner of the cow went, 
weeping and complaining, to the Nazir's superior, the late Moham- 
mad Bey, Deftardar. " O my master," said he, " I am oppressed 
and in misery. I had no property but one cow, a milch cow. I 


and my family lived upon her milk ; and slie ploughed for me, 
and threshed my corn ; and my whole subsistence Avas derived 
from her. The Nazir has taken her, and killed her, and cut her 
up into sixty piecfes, and sold the pieces to my neighbours — to 
each a piece, for one riyal ; so that he obtained but sixty riyals 
for the whole, while the value of the cow was a hundred and 
twenty riyals, or more. I am oppressed and in misery, and a 
stranger in the place, for I came from another village ; but the 
Nazir had no pity on me. I and my family are become beggars, 
and have nothing left. Have mercy upon me, and give me 
justice; I implore it by thy hareem." The Deftaixlar, having 
caused the ISTazir to be brought before him, asked him, " Where is 
the cow of this fellah ?" "I have sold it," said the Nazir. " For 
how much ?" "For sixty riyals." "Why did you kill it and sell 
it?" "He owed sixty riyals for land; so I took his cow, and 
killed it, and sold it for the amount." " Whei'e is the butcher 
tliat killed it % " " In Manoof." The butcher was sent for, and 
brought. The Deftardar said to him, " Why did you kill this 
man's cow 1 " " The Nazir desired me," he answered, " and I 
could not oppose him. If I had attempted to do so, he would 
have beaten me, and destroyed my house. I killed it ; and the 
Nazir gave me the head as my reward." " Man," said the Deft- 
ardar, " do you know the persons who bought the meat 1 " The 
butcher replied that he did. The Deftardar then desired his 
secretary to write the names of the sixty men, and an order to 
the sheykh of their village to bring them to Manoof, where this 
complaint was made. The Nazir and butcher were placed in con- 
finement till the next morning, when the sheykh of the village 
came with the sixty fellaheen. The two jirisoners were then 
brought again before the Deftardar, who said to the sheykh and 
the sixty peasants, " Was the value of this man's cow sixty 
riyals 1" "Oh, our master," they answered, "her value was 
greater." The Deftardar sent for the Kadee of INIanoof, and said 
to him, " O Kadee, here is a man oppressed by this Nazir, who 
has taken his cow, and killed it, and sold its flesh for sixty riyals. 
What is thy judgment?" The Kadee replied, "He is a cruel 
tyrant, who oppresses every one under his authority. Is not a 
cow worth a hundred and twenty riyals, or more? and he has sold 


this one for sixty rivals. This is tyranny towards the owner." 
The Deftardar then said to some of his sokliers, " Take the ISTazir, 
and strip him, and bind him." This done, he said to the butcher, 
" Butcher, dost tliou not fear God % Thou hast killed the cow 
unjustly." The butcher again urged that he was obliged to obey 
the Xazir. "Then," said the Deftardar, "if I order thee to do 
a thing, wilt thou do it?" "I will do it," answered the butcher. 
" Slaughter the Kazir," said the Deftardar. Immediately several 
of the soldiers present seized the Nazir, and threw him down ; and 
the butcher cut his throat, in the regular orthodox manner of 
killing animals for food. " Now, cut him up," said the Deftardar, 
" into sixty pieces." This was done ; the people concerned in the 
affair, and many others, looking on, but none daring to speak. 
The sixty peasants who had bought the meat of the cow were 
then called forward, one after another, and each was made to take 
a piece of the flesh of the Nazir, and to pay for it two riyals ; so 
that a hundred and twenty riyals were obtained from them. They 
were then dismissed ; but the butcher remained. The Kadee was 
asked what should be the reward of the butcher, and answered 
that he should be paid as he had been paid by the Nazir. The 
Deftardar therefore ordered that the head of the Nazir should be 
given to him ; and the butcher went away with his worse than 
valueless Inirden, thanking God that he had not been more un- 
fortunate, and scarcely believing himself to have so easily escaped 
until he arrived at his village. The money paid for the flesh of 
the Nazir was given to the owner of the cow. 

Most of the governors of provinces and districts carry their 
oppression far beyond the limits to which they are authorized to 
proceed by the Basha ; and even the sheykh of a village, in exe- 
cuting the commands of his superiors, abuses his lawful power. 
Bribes and the ties of relationship and marriage influence him 
and them, and by lessening the oppression of some, who are more 
able to bear it, greatly increase that of others. But the office of 
a sheykh of a village is far from being a sinecure. At the period 
when the taxes are demanded of him, he frequently receives a 
more severe bastinading than any of his inferiors ; for when the 
population of a village does not yield the sum required, their sheykh 
is often beaten for their default, and not always does he produce 


liis own proportion until he has been well thrashed. All the 
fellaheen are proud of the stripes they receive for withholding 
their contributions, and are often heard to boast of the number 
of blows which were inflicted upon them before they would give 
up their money. Ammianus Marcellinus gives precisely the same 
character to the Egyptians of his time. 

The revenue of the Basha of Egypt is generally said to amount 
to about three millions of pounds sterling. Nearly half arises 
from the direct taxes on land, and from indirect exactions from 
the fellaheen, the remainder principally from the custom-taxes, 
the tax on palm trees, a kind of income-tax, and the sale of vari- 
ous productions of the land ; by which sale the government, in 
most instances, obtains a profit of more than fifty per cent. 

The present Basha has increased his revenue to this amount 
by most oppressive measures. He has dispossessed of their lands 
almost all the private proprietoi's throughout Egypt, allotting to 
each, as a partial compensation, a pension for life, proportioned 
to the extent and quality of the land which belonged to him. The 
farnier has therefore nothing to leave to his children but his hut, 
and perhaps a few cattle and some small savings. 

The direct taxes on land are proportioned to the natural ad- 
vantages of the soil. Their average amount is about eight shillings 
per feddan, which is nearly equal to an English acre. But the 
cultivator can never calculate exactly the full amount of what the 
government will require of him. He suffers from indirect exac- 
tions of quantities (differing in different years, but always levied 
per feddan) of butter, honey, wax, wool, baskets of palm leaves, 
ropes of the fibres of the palm tree, and other commodities ; he is 
also obliged to pay the hire of the camels which convey his grain to 
the government shooneh (or granary), and to defray various other 
expenses. A portion of the produce of his land is taken by the 
government, and sometimes the whole produce, at a fixed and 
fair price, which, however, in many parts of Egypt, is retained to 
make up for the debts of the insolvent peasants. The fellah, 
to supply the bare necessaries of life, is often obliged to steal, 
and convey secretly to his hut, as much as he can of the 2ii'oduce 
of his land. He may either himself supply the seed for his land, 
or obtain it as a loan from the j^overnment ; but in the latter case 


he seldom obtains a sufficient quantity, a considerable portion 
being generally stolen by the persons through whose hands it 
passes before he receives it. To relate all the oppressions which 
the peasantry of Egypt endure from the dishonesty of the Ma- 
moors and inferior officers would require too much space in the 
present work. It would be scarcely possible for them to suffer 
more and live. It may be hardly necessary, therefore, to add 
that few of them engage with assiduity in the labours of agricul- 
ture unless compelled to do so by their superiors. 

The Basha has not only taken possession of the lands of the 
private proprietors, but he has also thrown into his treasury a con- 
siderable proportion of the incomes of religious and charitable in- 
stitutions, deeming their accumulated wealth superfluous. He first 
imposed a tax (of nearly half the amount of the regular land-tax) 
upon all land which had become a "wakf " (or legacy inalienable 
by law) to any mosque, fountain, public school, etc. ; and after- 
wards took absolute possession of such lands, granting certain 
annuities in lieu of them, for keeping in repair the respective 
buildings, and for the maintenance of those persons attached to 
them, as Nazirs (or wardens), religious ministers, inferior servants, 
students, and other pensioners. He has thus rendered liimself 
extremely odious to most persons of the religious and learned pro- 
fessions, and especially to the Nazirs of the mosques, who too 
generally enriched themselves fi'om the funds intrusted to their 
care, which were in most cases superabundant. The household 
property of the mosques and other puVjlic institutions (the wakfs 
of numerous individuals of various ranks) the Basha has hitherto 
left inviolate. 

The tax upon the palm trees has been calculated to amount to 
about a hundred thousand pounds sterling. The trees are rated 
according to their qualities, generally at a piaster and a half each. 

The income-tax, which is called "firdeh," is generally a twelfth 
or more of a man's annual income or salary, when that can be 
ascertained. The maximum, however, is fixed at five hundred 
piasters. In the large towns it i.s levied upon individuals, in the 
villages upon houses. The income-tax of all the inhabitants of 
the metropolis amounts to eight thousand purses, or about forty 
thousand pounds sterling. 

(440) 10 


The inhabitants of the metropolis and of other large towns 
pay a heavy tax on grain, etc. The tax on each kind of grain is 
eighteen piastei's per ardebb (or about five bushels) ; which sum is 
equal to the price of wheat in the country after a good harvest. ^^ 



Having sufficiently considered the foundations of the moral and 
social state of the Muslims of Egypt, we may now take a view of 
their domestic life and ordinaiy habits. And first, let us confine 
our attention to the higher and middle orders. 

A master of a family, or any person who has arrived at man- 
hood, and is not in a menial situation, or of very low condition, 
is commonly honoured with the appellation of " the sheykh," pre- 
fixed to his name. The word " sheykh " literally signifies " an 
eldei"," or "an aged person :" but it is often used as synonymous 
with our appellation of " Mister," though more particularly ap- 
plied to a learned man or a reputed saint. A " shereef," or de- 
scendant of the Prophet, is called " the seyd," or " the seyyid " 
(master, or lord), whatever be his station. INIany shereefs are 
employed in the lowest offices : there are servants, dustmen, and 
beggars of the honoured race of Mohammad ; but all of them 
are entitled to the distinctive appellation above mentioned, and 
privileged to wear the green turban. Many of them, however, 
not only among those of humble station, but also among the 
wealthy, and particularly the learned, assume neither of these 
prerogatives, preferring the title of " sheykh " and the white 
turban. A man who has performed the pilgrimage is generally 
called "the hagg," and a woman who has alike distinguished 
herself, "the haggeh ;" yet there are many pilgrims who, like 
those shereefs just before alluded to, prefer the title of " sheykh." 
The general appellation of a lady is " the sitt,'' which signifies 
" the mistress," or "the lady." 

Before I describe the ordinary habits of the master of a family, 
I must mention the various classes of persons of whom the 


family may consist. The hareem, or tlie females of the house, 
have distinct apartments allotted to them ; and into these apart- 
ments (which, as well as the persons to whom they are appropriated, 
are called " the hareem ") no males are allowed to enter, except- 
ing the master of the family, and certain other near relations, and 
children. The hareem may consist, first, of a wife, or wives (to 
the number of four); secondly, of female slaves, some of whom, 
namely, white and Abyssinian slaves, are generally concubines, 
and others (the black slaves) kept merely for servile offices, as 
cooking, waiting upon the ladies, etc. ; thirdly, of female free 
servants, who are in no case concubines, or not legitimately so. 
The male dependant s may coti siR^' '^f w-hitifj ^^-\<\ nf Julack - slaves 
and free ser vants, bu t are mostly of thf; class. 
Very few of the Egyptians avail themselves of the license, which 
their religion allows them, of having four wives ; and still smaller 
is the number of those who have two or more wives, and concu- 
bines besides. Even most of those men who have but one wife 
are content, for the sake of domestic peace, if for no other rea- 
son, to remain without a concubine slave ; but some prefer the 
possession of an Abyssinian slave to the more expensive mainten- 
ance of a wife, and keep a black slave-girl, or an Egyptian female 
servant, to wait upon her, to clean and keep in order the apart- 
ments of the hareem, and to cook. It is seldom that two or 
more wives are kept in the same house ; if they be, they gener- 
ally have distinct apartments. Of male servants, the master of 
a family keeps, if he can afford to do so, one or more to wait upon 
him and his male guests ; another, who is called a " sakka," or 
water-carrier, but who is particularly a servant of the hareem, and 
attends the ladies when they go out ; a " bowwab," or door- 
keeper, who constantly sits at the door of the house ; and a " sa'is," 
yc groom, for the horse, mule, or ass. Few of the Egyptians ha\e 
" memlooks," or male white slaves, most of these being in the 
possession of rich 'Osmanlees (or Turks) ; and scarcely any but 
Turks of high rank keep eunuchs. But a wealthy Egyptian mer- 
chant is proud of having a black slave to ride or walk behind him, 
and to carry his pipe. 

The Egyptian is a very early riser, as he retires to sleep at an 
early hour. It is his duty to be up and dressed before daybreak. 


when he should say the morning prayers. In general, while the 
master of a family is performing the religious ablution, and saying 
his prayers, his wife or slave is preparing for him a cup of coffee, 
and filling his pipe, which she presents to him as soon as he has 
acquitted himself of his religious duties. 

Many of the Egyptians take nothing before noon but the cup 
of coffee and the pipe ; others take a light meal at an early hour. 
The meal of breakfast (" el-fatoor ") generally consists of bread, 
with eggs, butter, cheese, clotted cream, or curdled milk, etc. ; or 
of a " fateereh," which is a kind of pastry saturated with butter, 
made very thin, and folded over and ov(!r like a napkin. It is 
eaten alone, or with a little honey poured over it, or sugar. A 
very common dish for breakfast is " fool mudemmes," or beans, 
similar to our horse-beans, slowly boiled during a whole night in 
an earthen vessel, buried, all but the neck, in the hot ashes of an 
oven or a bath, and having the mouth closely stopped. They are 
eaten with linseed oil, or butter, and generally with a little lime- 
juice ; thus prepared, they are sold in the morning in the sooks 
(or markets) of Cairo and other towns. A meal is often made (by 
those who cannot afford luxuries) of bread and a mixture called 
" dukkah," which is connnonly composed of salt and pepper, with 
" zaatar " (or wild marjoram) or mint or cumin-seed, and with one 
or more, or all, of the following ingredients — namely, coriander- 
seed, cinnamon, sesame, and " hommus " (or chick-peas). Each 
mouthful of bread is dipped in this mixture. The bread is always 
made in the form of a round flat cake, generally about a span in 
width and a finger's bz^eadth in thickness. 

The pipe and the cup of coffee are enjoyed by almost all persons 
who can afford such luxuries very early in the morning, and often- 
times during the day. There are many men who are scarcely ever 
seen without a pipe either in their hand or carried behind them 
by a servant. The smoker keeps his tobacco for daily use in a 
purse or bag made of shawl-stuff, or silk, or velvet, which is often 
accompanied with a small pouch containing a flint and steel, and 
some agai'ic tinder, and is usually crammed into his bosom. 

The pipe (which is called by many names, as "shibuk," "'ood," 
etc.) is generally between four and five feet long : some pipes are 
shorter, and some are of greater length. The most common kind 



used ill Egypt is made of a kind of wood called " garmasli'ak." 
The greater part of the stick (from the mouthpiece to about three- 

quarters of its length) is covered with silk, which is confined at 
each extremity by a gold thread, often intertwined with coloured 
silks, or by a tube of gilt silver ; and at the lower extremity of the 


covering is a tassel of silk. The covering was originally designed 
to be moistened with water, in order to cool the pipe, and con- 
sequently the smoke, by evaporation ; but this is only done when 
the pipe is old or not handsome. Cherry-stick j^ipes, which are 
never covered, are also used by many persons, particularly in the 
winter. In summer the smoke is not so cool from the cheny-stick 
pipe as from the kind before mentioned. The bowl is of baked 
earth, coloured red or brown. The mouthpiece is composed of 
two or moi'e pieces of opaque, light-coloured amber, interjoined 
by ornaments of enamelled gold, agate, jasper, carnelian, or some 
other precious substance. It is the most costly part of the pipe. 
The price of one of the kind most generally used by persons of 
the middle orders is from about one to three pounds sterling. A 
wooden tube passes through it. This is often changed, as it soon 
becomes foul from the oil of the tobacco. The pipe also requires 
to be cleaned very often, which is done with tow, by means of a 
long wire. Many poor men in Cairo gain their livelihood by going 
about to clean pipes. 

The tobacco smoked by persons of the higher orders and some 
others in Egypt is of a very mild and delicious flavour. It is 
mostly from the neighbourhood of El-Ladikeeyeh, in Syria. The 
best kind is the " mountain tobacco," grown on the hills about 
that town. A stronger kind, which takes its name from the town 
of Soor, sometimes mixed with the former, is used by most persons 
of the middle orders. In smoking, the people of Egypt and of 
other countries of the East draw- in their breath freely, so that 
much of the smoke descends into the lungs ; and the terms which 
they use to express "smoking tobacco " signify ^'■drinking smoke," 
or " drinking tobacco," for the same word signifies both " smoke " 
and " tobacco." Few of them spit while smoking ; I have very 
seldom seen any do so. 

Some of the Egyptians use the Persian pipe, in which the 
smoke passes through water. The pipe of this kind most com- 
monly used by persons of the higher classes is called " nargeeleh," 
because the vessel that contains the Avater is a cocoa-nut, of which 
" nargeeleh " is an Arabic name. Another kind, which has a glass 
vase, is called "sheesheh." Each has a very long flexible tube. 
A particular kind of tobacco, called " tumbak," from Persia, is 



used in the water-pipe. It is lirst washed several times, and put 
into the pipe-bowl while damp, and two or thi-ee pieces of live 
charcoal are placed on the top. Its flavour is mild, and very- 
agreeable ; but the strong inhalation necessary in this mode of 
smoking is injurious to persons of delicate lungs. In using the 
Persian pipe, the person as freely draws the smoke into his lungs 
as he would inhale pure air. The great prevalence of liver 
complaints in Arabia is attributed to the general use of the nar- 
geeleh, and maiay persons in Egypt suffer severely fi'om the same 
cause. A kind of pipe, commonly called " gozeh," which is 
similar to the nargceleh, excepting that it has a short cane tube 


instead of the snake (or flexible one), and no stand, is used by 
men of the lowest class for smoking both the tumbak and the 
intoxicating " hasheesh," or hemp. 

The cotfee (" kaliAveh ") is made very strong, and without 
sugar or milk. The cofiee-cup (which is called " flngan ") is small, 
generally holding not quite an ounce and a half of liquid. It is 
of porcelain, or Dutch ware, and being without a handle is placed 
within another cup (called " zarf "), of silver or brass, according 
to the circumstances of the owner, and both in shape and size 
nearly resembling our egg-cup. In preparing the coffee, the 
water is first made to boil; the coffee (freshly roasted and pounded) 
is then put in and stirred ; after which the pot is again placed on 



the fire, once or twice, until the coffee begins to simmer, when it 
is taken oft', and its contents are poured out into the cups while 
the surface is yet creamy. The Egyptians ai-e excessively fond 
of pure and strong coffee thus prepared, and very seldom add 
sugar to it (though some do so when they are unwell), and never 
milk or ci'eam ; but a little cardamom-seed is often added to it. 
It is a common custom, also, to fumigate the cup with the smoke 
of mastic ; and the wealthy sometimes impregnate the coffee with 
the delicious fragrance of ambergris. The most general mode of 
doing this is to put about a carat-weight of ambergris in a coffee- 
pot and melt it over a fire ; then make the coffee in another j^ot, 
in the manner before described, and when it has settled a little, 
pour it into the pot which contains the ambergris. Some persons 


make use of the ambergris, for the same purpose, in a different 
way^ — sticking a piece of it, of the weight of about two carats, in 
the bottom of the cup, and then pouring in the coffee : a piece 
of the weight above mentioned will serve for two or three weeks. 
This mode is often adopted by persons who like always to have 
the coffee which they themselves drink flavoured with this perfume, 
and do not give all their visitors the same luxury. The coffee- 
pot is sometimes brought in a vessel of silver or brass (called 
" 'az'kee ") containing burning charcoal. This vessel is suspended 
by three chains. In pi'esenting the coffee, the servant holds the 
foot of the zarf with his thumb and first finger. In receiving 
the fingan and zarf, he makes use of both hands, placing the left 
beneath and the right above at the same instant. 



In cold weather, a brasier, or chafing-dish (called " niankal," 
and vulgarly " mankad "), of tinned copper, full of burning char- 
coal, is placed on the floor, and sometimes perfume is burned in 
it. The EgyjDtians take great delight in perfumes, and often 
fumigate their apartments. The substance most commonly used 
for this purpose is frankincense of an inferior quality, called 
" bakhoor el-barr." Benzoin and aloes-wood are also used for the 
same purpose. 

If he can conveniently afford to keep a Jiorse, mule, or ass, or 
to hire an ass, the Egyptian is seldom seen walking far beyond 
the threshold of his own house ; but very few of the people of 
Cairo, or of the other towns, venture to expose themselves to the 
suspicion of possessing superfluous wealth, and, consequently, to 
greater exactions of the government than they would otherwise 
suffer, by keeping horses. The modern saddle of the horse is 
generally padded, and covered with cloth or velvet, embroidered 
or otherwise ornamented ; and the head-stall and breast-leather 
are adorned with silk tassels, and coins, or other ornaments, of 
silver. Wealthy merchants, and the great 'Ulama, usually ride 
mules. The saddle of the mule is generally nearly the same as 
that of the ass, of which a sketch is inserted. When the rider is 
one of the 'Ulama, it is covered with a "seggadeh" (or prayer- 
carpet) ; so also, sometimes, is the ladies' saddle, from which, 
however, the former differs considerably, as will be shown here- 
after. Asses are most generally used for riding through the nar- 
row and crowded streets of Cairo, and there are many for hire : 
their usual pace is an easy amble. Egypt has long been famed for 
its excellent asses, which are, in general, larger than those of our 
country, and very superior to the latter in every respect. The 
usual price of one of a good breed and well trained is about three 
or four pounds sterling. The ass is furnished with a stuffed 
saddle, the fore part of which is covered with red leather, and 
the seat, most commonly, with a kind of soft woollen lace, similar 
to our coach-lace, of red, yellow, and other colours. The stirrup- 
leathers are, in every case, very short. The horseman is preceded 
by a servant, or by two servants, to clear the way ; and, for the 
same purpose, a servant generally runs beside or behind the ass, 
or sometimes before, calling out to the passengers to move out of 


the way to the right or left, or to take care of their backs, faces, 
sides, feet, or heels. The rider, however, must be vigilant, and 
not trust merely to his servant, or he may be thrown down by the 
wide load of a camel, which accident, indeed, is sometimes un- 
avoidable in the more narrow and crowded streets. His pipe is 
generally carried by the servant, and filled and lighted if he dis- 
mount at a house or a shop. 

If he have no regular business to employ him, the Egyptian 
spends the greater part of the day in riding, paying visits, or mak- 
ing purchases ; or in smoking, and sipping coffee, and chatting with 
a friend at home ; or he passes an hour or more in the morning 
enjoying the luxuries of a public bath. At noon he has again to 
say prayers, if he fulfil the duties imposed on him by his religion \ 
but, as I have remarked on a former occasion, there are compar- 
atively few persons among the Egyptians who do not sometimes 
neglect these duties, and there are many who scarcely ever pray. 
Directly after mid-day (if he has not taken a late breakfast) he 
dines ; then takes a pipe and a cup of coffee, and, in hot weather, 
usually indulges himself with a nap. Often he retires to recline 
in the hareem, where a wife or female slave watches over his re- 
pose, or rubs the soles of his feet with her hands. On such occa- 
sions, and at other times when he wishes to enjoy privacy, every 
person who comes to pay him a visit is told by the servant that 
he is in the hareem ; and no friend expects him to be called thence, 
unless on very urgent business. From the time of the afternoon 
prayers until sunset (the next time of prayer) he generally enjoys 
again his pipe and a cup of coffee in the society of some one or 
more of his friends at home or abroad. Shortly after sunset he 

I must now describe the meals of dinner ("el-ghada") and 
supper ("el-'asha"), and the manner and etiquette of eating. The 
same remarks will apply to both these repasts, excepting that 
supper is always the principal meal. It is the general custom to 
cook in the afternoon, and what remains of the supper is eaten the 
next day for dinner when there are no guests in the house. The 
master of a family generally dines and sups with his wife or wives 
and children ; but there are many men, particularly of the higher 
classes, who are too proud to do this, or too much engaged in 




society to be able to do so, unless on some few occasions ; and 
there are men even of the lowest class who scarcely ever eat with 
their wives or children. When a person is paying a visit to a 
friend, and the hour of dinner or supper arrives, it is incumbent 
on the master of the house to order the meal to be brought ; 
and the same is generally considered necessary if the visitor be 
a stranger. 

Every person, before he sits down to the table, or rather to the 
tray, washes his hands, and sometimes his mouth also, with soap 
and water ; or at least has some water poured upon his right 
hand. A servant brings to him a basin and ewer (called " tisht " 
and " ibreek "), of tinned copper or of brass. The former of these 
has a cover pierced with holes, with a raised receptacle for the 
soap in the middle ; and the water, being poured upon the hands, 
passes through this cover into the space below, so that when the 
basin is brought to a second person, the water with which the 
former one has washed is not seen. A napkin ("footali") is 
given to each person. 


A round tray (called " seeneeyeh " and " saneeyeh ") of tinned 
copper, or sometimes of brass, generally between two and three 
feet in diameter, serves as a table, being placed upon a stool 
(" kursee ") about fifteen inches high, made of wood, and often 


covered with mother-of-pearl, tortoise-shell, bone, etc. These two 
pieces of fui'niture compose the "sufrah." Round cakes of bread, 
such as have been before described, sometimes cut in halves across 
the middle, are placed round the tray, with several limes, cut in 
two, to be squeezed over any of the dishes that may require the 
acid ; and a spoon of box-wood, or of ebony, or tortoise-shell, is 
put for each person. The bread often serves as a plate. Several 
dishes of tinned copper, or of china, containing different kinds of 
viands, vegetables, etc., ai'e then placed upon the tray, according 
to the common fashion of the country ; or only one dish is put on 
at a time, after the Turkish mode. 

The persons who are to partake of tlie repast sit upon the 
floor around the tray, each with his napkin upon his knees ; or, 
if the tray be placed near the edge of a low deewan, which is 
often done, some of the persons may sit on the deewan, and the 
others on the floor. But if the party be numerous, the tray is 
placed in the middle of the room, and they sit round it with one 
knee on the ground, and the other (the right) raised ; and in this 
manner as many as twelve persons may sit round a tray three 
feet wide. Each person bares his right arm to the elbow, or tucks 
up the hanging end of his sleeve. Before he begins to eat, he 
says, " Bi-smi-Uah " (" In the name of God "). This is generally said 
in a low but audible voice, and by the master of the house first. 
It is considered both as a grace and as an invitation to any person 
to partake of the meal ; and when any one is addressed with 
" Bi-smi-llah," or " Tafaddal " (which latter signifies, in this case, 
" Do me the favour to partake of the repast "), he must reply, if 
he do not accept the invitation, " Heneean " (or " May it be pro- 
ductiv-e of enjoyment," or "benefit"), or use some similar expres- 
sion, else it will be feared that an evil eye has been cast upon the 
food ; and they say that ' ' in the food that is coveted " (or upon 
which an envious eye has fallen) "there is no blessing." But the 
manner in which the Egyptian often presses a stranger to eat with 
him shows that feelings of hospitality most forcibly dictate the 
"Bi-smi-llah." The master of the house first begins to eat; the 
guests or others immediately follow his example. Neither knives 
nor forks are used — the thumb and two fingers of the right hand 
serve instead of those instruments ; but the spoons are used for 



soup or rice, or other things that cannot be easily taken without ; 
and both hands may be used in particular cases, as will be pi-e- 
sently explained. When there are several dishes upon the tray, 
each person takes of any that he likes, or of every one in succes- 
sion. When only one dish is placed upon the tray at a time, each 
takes from it a few mouthfuls, and it is quickly removed, to give 
place to another.* To pick out a delicate morsel and hand it to 
a friend is esteemed polite. The manner of eatiiig with the fin- 
gers, as practised in Egypt and other Eastern countries, is more 
delicate than may be imagined by Europeans who have not wit- 
nessed it nor heard it correctly described. Each person breaks 


off a small piece of bread, dips it in the dish, and then conveys it 
to his mouth, together with a small portion of the meat, or other 
contents of the dish.f The piece of bread is generally doubled 
together, so as to enclose the morsel of meat, etc. ; and only the 
thumb and first and second fingers are commonly vised. When a 
person takes a piece of meat too large for a single mouthful, he 
usually places it upon his bread. 

The food is dressed in such a manner that it may be easily 

* Our Saviour and his disciples thus ate from one dish. (See Matt. xxvi. 23.) 
+ Or he merely sops his morsel of bread in the dish. (See Ruth ii. 14 ; and John xiii 26.) 
(440) \ \ 


eaten in the mode above described. It generally consists, for the 
most part, of "yakhnee," or stewed meat, with chopped onions, 
or with a quantity of " bamiychs," or other vegetables ; " kawui'- 
meh," or a richer stew, with onions ; " warak mahshee," or vine- 
leaves, or bits of lettuce-leaf or cabbage-leaf, with a mixture of 
rice and minced meat (delicately seasoned with salt, pepper, and 
onions, and often with garlic, parsley, etc.) wrapped up in them, 
and boiled; cucumbers ("khiyar"), or black, white, or red "bad- 
ingans,"* or a kind of gourd (called " kara kooseh ") of the size and 
shape of a small cucumber, which are all " mahshee," or stuffed, 
with the same composition as the leaves above mentioned ; and 
" kebab," or small morsels of mutton or lamb, roasted on skewers. 
Many dishes consist wholly, or for the most part, of A^egetables, 
such as cabbage, purslane, spinach, beans, lupins, chick-peas, gourd 
cut into small pieces, colocasia, lentils, etc. Fish, dressed with 
oil, is also a common dish. Most of the meats are cooked with 
clarified butter, on account of the deficiency of fat, and are made 
veiy rich : the butter in the hot season is perfectly liquid. Wlien 
a fowl is placed whole on the tray, both hands are generally re- 
quired to separate the joints ; or two persons, each using the right 
hand alone, perform this operation together ; but some will do it 
very cleverly without assistance, and Avith a single hand. Many 
of the Arabs will not allow the left hand to touch food in any 
case, excepting when the right is maimed. A boned fowl, stuffed 
with raisins, pistachio-nuts, crumbled bread, and parsley, is not an 
uncommon dish ; and even a whole lamb, stuffed with pistachio- 
nuts, etc., is sometimes served up ; but the meat is easily sepa- 
rated with one hand. Sweets are often mixed with stewed meat, 
etc. ; as, for instance, " 'annab " (or jujubes), peaches, apricots, etc., 
and sugar, with yakhnee. Various kinds of sweets are also served 
up, and often in no particular oixler with respect to other meats. 
A favourite sweet dish is " kunafeh," which is made of wheat-flour, 
and resembles vermicelli, but is finer: it is fried with a little clari- 
fied butter, and sweetened with sugar or honey. A dish of water- 
melon (" batteekh "), if in season, generally forms part of the 
meal. This is cut up about a quarter of an hour before, and left 

' The black and white badingan are the fruits of two kinds of egg-plant ; the red is the 


to cool in the external air, or in a current of air, by the evapora- 
tion of the juice on the surfaces of the slices ; but it is ahvays 
watched during this time, lest a serpent should come to it and 
poison it by its breath or bite, for this reptile is said to be ex- 
tremely fond of the water-melon, and to smell it at a great dis- 
tance. Water-melons are very abundant in Egypt, and mostly 
very delicious and wholesome. A dish of boiled rice (called "ruzz 
mufelfel," the " pilav " of the Turks), mixed with a little butter, 
and seasoned with salt and pepper, is generally that from which 
the last morsels are taken ; but in the houses of the wealthy this 
is often followed by a bowl of " khushaf," a sweet drink, com- 
monly consisting of water with raisins boiled in it, and then 
sugar : when cool a little rose-water is dropped into it. The 
water-melon frequently supplies the place of this. 

The Egyptians eat very moderately, though quickly. Each 
person, as soon as he has finished, says, " El-hamdu li-llah " (" Praise 
be to God "), and gets up, without waiting till the others have done. 
He then washes his hands and mouth with soap . and water, the 
basin and ewer being held by a servant as before. 

The only beverage at meals is water of the Nile, or sometimes, 
at the tables of the rich, sherbet, which will presently be described. 
The Arabs drink little or no Avater during a meal, but generally 
take a large draught immediately after. The water of the Nile is 
remarkably good, but that of all the wells in Cairo and in other 
parts of Egypt is slightly brackish. In general, water is drunk 
either from an earthen bottle or from a brass cup. The water- 
bottles are of two kinds — one called "dorak," and the other 
" kulleh : " the former has a narrow and the latter a wide mouth. 
They are made of a grayish, porous earth, which cools the water 
deliciously, by evaporation ; and they are, therefore, generally 
placed in a current of air. The interior is often blackened with 
the smoke of some resinous wood, and then perfumed with the 
smoke of " kafal " wood and mastic ; the latter used last. A 
small earthen vessel (called " mibkhar'ah '*) is employed in per- 
forming these operations, to contain the burning charcoal, which 
is required to ignite the wood and the mastic ; and the water- 
bottle is held inverted over it. A strip of rag is tied round the 
neck of the d6rak, at the distance of about an inch from the 


mouth, to prevent the smoke-black from extending too far upon 
the exterior of the bottle. Many persons also put a little orange- 
flower-water into the bottles. This gives a very agreeable flavour 
to their contents. The bottles have stoppers of silver, brass, tin, 
wood, or palm-leaves, and are generally placed in a tra}-- of tinned 
copper, which receives the water that exudes from them. In cold 
weather, china bottles are used in many houses instead of those 
above described, which then render the water too cold. Some of 
the drinking-cups have texts of the Kur-an, etc., engraved in the 
interior, or the names of " the Seven Sleepers ; " but inscriptions of 
the former kind I have seldom seen. Every person, before and 
after drinking, repeats the same ejaculations as before and after 
eating, and this he does each time that he drinks during a meal : 
each friend present then says to him, " May it bo productive of 
enjoyment" or "benefit;" to which the reply is, "God cause thee 
to have enjoyment." 

Though we read, in some of the delightful tales of " The Thou- 
sand and One Nights," of removing " the table of viands " and 
bringing " the table of wine," this prohibited beverage is not 
often introduced in general society, either during or after the 
meal, or at other times, by the IVIuslims of Egypt in the present 
day. Many of them, however, habitually indulge in drinking 
wine with select parties of their acquaintance. The servants of a 
man who is addicted to this habit know such of his friends as may 
be admitted, if they happen to call when he is engaged in this 
unlawful pleasure ; and to all others they say that he is not at 
home, or that he is in the hareem. Drinking wine is indulged in 
by such persons before and after supper, and during that meal ; 
but it is most approved before su])per, as they say that it quickens 
the appetite. The " table of wine " is usually thus prepared, 
according to .a penitent Muslim wine-bibber who is one of my 
friends (I cannot speak on this subject from my own experience; 
for, as I never drink Avine, I have never been invited to join a 
Muslim wine-party) : — A round japanned tray, or a glass dish, is 
placed on the stool before mentioned ; on this are generally ar- 
ranged two cut-glass jugs, one containing wine and the other 
rosoglio, and sometimes two or more bottles besides. Several 
small glasses are placed with these, and glass saucers of dried 


Pa^e i6s. 


and fresh fruits, and perhaps pickles. Lastly, two candles, and 
often a bunch of flovrers stuck in a candlestick, ai'e put upon the 

The Egyptians have various kinds of sherbets or sweet drinks. 
The most common kind is merely sugar and water, but very 
sweet ; lemonade is another ; a third kind, the most esteemed, is 
prepared from a hard conserve of violets, made by pounding 
violet-flowers and then boiling them with sugai-. This violet-sher- 
bet is of a green colour. A fourth kind is prepared from mul- 
berries ; a fifth, from sorrel. There is also a kind of sherbet sold 
in the streets which is made with raisins, as its name implies ; 
another kind, which is a strong infusion of liquorice-root, and 
called by the name of that root ; and a third kind, which is pre- 
pared from the fruit of the locust tree, and called in like manner 
by the name of the fruit. The sherbet is served in coloured glass 
cups, generally called " kullehs," containing about three-quarters 
of a pint ; some of which (the more common kind) ai^e ornamented 
with gilt flowers, etc. The sherbet-cups are placed on a round 
tray, and covered with a I'ound piece of embroidei'cd silk, or cloth 
of gold. On the right arm of the person who presents the sherbet 
is hung a large oblong napkin with a wide embroidered border of 
gold and coloured silks at each end. This is ostensibly offered 
for the purpose of wiping the lips after drinking the sherbet, but 
it is really not so much for use as for display. The lips are seldom 
or scarcely touched with it. 

The interval between supper and the " 'eshe," or time of the 
night-prayers, is generally passed in smoking a pipe and sipping 
a cup of coff*ee. The enjoyment of the pipe may be interrupted 
by prayer, but is continued afterwards ; and sometimes draughts 
or chess or some other game, or at least conversation, contributes 
to make the time glide away more agreeably. The members of 
an Egyptian family in easy circumstances may pass their time 
very pleasantly, but they do so in a quiet wa3^ The men often 
pay evening visits to their friends, at or after supper-time. They 
commonly use, on these and similar occasions, a folding lantern 
(" fanoos "), composed of waxed cloth strained over rings of wire, 
and a top and bottom of tinned copper. The common lamp (" kan- 
deel ") is a small vessel of glass, having a little tube in the bottom. 


in which is stuck a wick formed of cotton twisted round a piece 
of straw. Some water is poured in first, and then the oil. A 
lamp of this kind is often hung over the entrance of a house. 
By night the interiors of the houses present a more dull appear- 
ance than in the day. The light of one or two candles (placed on 
the floor or on a stool, and sometimes surrounded by a large glass 
shade, or enclosed in a glass lantern, on account of the windows 
being merely of lattice-work) is generally thought sufficient for 
a large and lofty saloon. Few of the Egyptians sit up later in 
summer than three or four o'clock, which is three or four hours 
after sunset ; for their reckoning of time is from sunset at 
every season of the year. In winter they often sit up five or 
six houi-s. 

Thus the day is usually spent by men of moderate wealth who 
have no regular business to attend to, or none that requires their 
own active superintendence. But it is the habit of the tradesman 
to repair soon after breakfast to his shop or warehouse, and to 
remain there until near sunset. He has leisure to smoke as much 
as he likes, and his customers often smoke with him. To some 
of these he offers his own pipe (unless they have theirs with 
them), and a cup of coffee, which is obtained from the nearest 
coffee-shop. A great portion of the day he sometimes passes in 
agreeable chat with customers, or with the tradesmen of the next 
or opposite shops. He generally says his prayers without moving 
from the shop. Shortly after the noon-prayers, or sometimes 
earlier or later, he eats a light meal, such as a plate of kebab and 
a cake of bread (which a boy or maid daily brings from his house 
or procures in the market), or some bread and cheese or pickles, 
etc., which are carried about the streets for sale; and if a customer 
be present, he is always invited, and often pressed, to partake of 
this meal. A large earthen bottle of water is kept in the shop, 
and replenished, whenever necessar}^, by a passing "sakka," or 
water-carrier. In the evening the tradesman returns to his house, 
eats his supper, and soon after retires to bed. 

It is the genei'al custom in Egypt for the husband and wife 
to sleep in the same bed, excepting among the wealthy classes, 
who mostly prefer separate beds. The bed is usually thus pre- 
pared in the houses of persons of moderate vrealth : — A mattress 


stuffed witli cotton, about six feet long and three or four feet in 
width, is placed upon a low frame; a pillow is placed for the head, 
and a sheet spread over this and the mattress. The only covering 
in summer is generally a thin blanket, and in winter a thick quilt 
stuffed with cotton. If there be no frame the mattress is placed 
upon the floor, or two mattresses are laid one upon the other, 
with the sheet, pillow, etc. ; and often a cushion of the deewan is 
placed on each side. A musqiiito-curtain is suspended over the 
bed by means of four strings, which are attached to nails in the 
wall. The dress is seldom changed on going to bed ; and in 
winter many people sleej^ with all their ordinary clothes on, 
excepting the gibbeh, or cloth coat ; but in summer they sleep 
almost or entirely unclad. In winter the bed is prepared in a 
small closet (called "khazneh"); in summer, in a large room. 
All the bed-clothes are rolled up in the daytime and placed on 
one side, or in the closet above mentioned. During the liottest 
weather, many people sleep upon the house-top, or in a " fes-hah " 
(or " fesahah "), which is an uncovered apartment ; but ophthal- 
mia and other diseases often result from their thus exposing them- 
selves to the external air at night. The most connnon kind of 
frame for the bed is made of palm-sticks ; but this hai'bours bugs, 
which are very abundant in Egypt in the summer, as fleas are 
in the winter. These and other plagues to which the people of 
Egypt are exposed by night and day have been before mentioned. 
With regard to the most disgusting of them, the lice, it may here 
be added, that though they are not always to be avoided even by 
the most scrupulous cleanliness, a person who changes his linen 
after two or three days' wear is very seldom annoyed by these 
vermin ; and when he is, they are easily removed, not attaching 
themselves to the skin — they are generally found in the linen. A 
house may be kept almost clear of fleas by frequent washing and 
sweeping, and the flies may be kept out by placing nets at the 
doors and windows, but it is impossible to purify an Egyptian 
house from bugs if it contain much wood-work, which is generally 
the case. 

The male servants lead a very easy life, with the exception of 
the " sais," or groom, who, whenever his master takes a ride, runs 
before or beside him : and this he will do in the hottest weather. 


for hours together, without appearmg fatigued. Almost every 
wealthy person in Cairo has a " bowwab," or door-keeper, always 
at the door of his house, and several other male servants. Most 
of these are natives of Egypt ; but many Nubians are also em- 
ployed as servants in Cairo and other Egyptian towns. The 
latter are mostly bowwabs, and are generally esteemed more honest 
than the Egyptian servants ; but I am inclined to think, from the 
opinion of several of my friends, and from my own experience, 
that they have acquired this reputation only by superior cunning. 
The Visages of the male servants are very small, usually from one 
to two dollars (or from four to eight shillings) per month; but 
they receive many presents. On the '"eed" (or festival) after 
Ramadan, the master generally gives to each of his servants part 
or the whole of a new suit of clothes, consisting of an " 'eree " (a 
blue shirt, which is their outer dress), a " tarboosh," and a turban. 
Other articles of dress which they require during the year (except- 
ing sometimes shoes) the servants are obliged to provide for them- 
selves. Besides what their master gives them, they also receive 
small presents of money from his visitors, and from the trades- 
people with whom he deals, particularly whenever he has made 
any considerable purchase. They sleep in the clothes which thoy 
wear during the day, each upon a small mat , and in winter they 
cover themselves with a cloak or blanket. In some respects they 
ai'e often familiar in their manners to their master, even laughing 
and joking with him ; in others they are very submissive, paying 
him the utmost honour, and bearing corporal chastisement from 
his hand with childlike patience. 

The male black slave is treated with more consideration than 
the free servant, and leads a life well suited to his lazy disj^osi- 
tion. If discontented with his situation, he can legally compel 
his master to sell him. Many of the slaves in Egypt wear the 
Turkish military dress. Thev are generally the greatest fanatics 
in the East, and more accustomed than any other class to insult 
the Christians and every people who are not of the faith which 
they have themselves adopted, without knowing more of its doc- 
trines than Arab children who have been but a week at school. 
Of the female slaves some account will be given in the next 


An acquaintance with the modern inhabitants of Egypt leads 
us often to compare their domestic habits with those of Europeans 
in the Middle Ages ; and perhaps in this comparison the points of 
resemblance which we observe with regard to the men are more 
striking than the contrasts, but the reverse will be found to be 
the case when we consider the state of the females. 



Quitting the lower apartments, where we have been long de- 
tained, I must enter ujjon a more presumptuous office than I have 
yet undertaken, which is that of a guide to the "Hareem." But 
first I must give some account of mai-riage and the marriage cere- 

To abstain from marrying when a man has attained a sufficient 
age, and when there is no just impediment, is esteemed by the 
Egyptians improper and even disreputable. For being myself 
guilty of this fault (to use no harsher term) I have suffered much 
inconvenience and discomfort during my stay in this country, and 
endured many reproaches. During my former visit to Egypt, hav- 
ing occasion to remove from a house which I had occupied for some 
months in a great thoroughfare-street in Cairo, I engaged another 
house in a neighbouring quarter. The lease was written, and some 
money paid in advance ; but a day or two after, the agent of the 
owner came to inform me that the inhabitants of the quarter, who 
were mostly "shereefs" (or descendants of the Prophet), objected 
to my living among them, because I was not married. He added, 
however, that they would gladly admit me if I would even pur- 
chase a female slave, which would exempt me from the opprobrium 
cast upon me by the want of a wife. I replied that being merely 
a sojourner in Egypt, I did not like to take either a wife or female 
slave, whom I must soon abandon. The money that I had paid was 
therefore returned to me. In another quarter I was less unfor- 
tunate : such heavy objections on account of my being unmarried 


were not raised ; I was only required to promise that no persons 
wearing hats should come into the quarter to visit me ; yet, after 
I had established myself in my new residence, the sheykh (or 
chief) of the quarter often endeavoured to persuade me to marry. 
All my arguments against doing so he deemed of no weight. 
"You tell me," said he, "that in a year or two you mean to 
leave this country ; now there is a young widow, who, I am 
told, is handsome, living within a few doors of you, who will be 
glad to become your wife, even with the express understanding 
that you shall divorce her when you quit this place, — though, of 
course, you may do so before if she should not please you." This 
young damsel had several times contrived to let me catch a glimpse 
of a pretty face, as I passed the house in which she and her 
parents lived. What answer could I return? I replied that I 
had actually, by accident, seen her face, and that she was the last 
woman I should wish to marry under such circumstances, for I 
was sure that I could never make up my mind to part with her. 
But I found it rather difficult to silence my officious friend. — 
It has been mentioned before, in the Introduction, that an un- 
married man, or one who has not a female slave, is usually obliged 
to dwell in a wekaleh, unless he has some near relation with 
whom to reside, but that Franks are now exempted from this 

The Egyptian females arrive at puberty much earlier than the 
natives of colder climates. Many marry at the age of twelve or 
thirteen years ; and some remarkably precocious girls are married 
at the age of ten, but such occurrences are not common. Few 
remain unmarried after sixteen years of age. An Egyptian girl at 
the age of thirteen, or even earlier, may be a mother. The women 
of Egypt are generally very prolific, but females of other countries 
residing here are often childless ; and the children of foreigners, 
born in Egypt, seldom live to a mature age, even when the mother 
is a native. It was on this account that the emancipated Memlooks 
(or military slaves) usually adopted Memlooks. 

It is very common among the Arabs of Egypt and of other 
countries, but less so in Cairo than in other parts of Egypt, for a 
man to marry his first cousin. In this case the husband and 
wife continue to call each other " cousin," because the tie of blood 


is indissoluble, but that of mati'imony very precax'ious. A union 
of this kind is generally lasting, on account of this tie of blood, 
and because mutual intercourse may have formed an attachment 
between the parties in tender age ; though, if they be of the 
higher or middle classes, the young man is seldom allowed to see 
the face of his female cousin, or even to meet and converse with 
her, after she has arrived at or near the age of puberty, until she 
has become his wife. 

Marriages in Cairo are generally conducted, in the case of a 
virgin, in the following maimer, but in that of a widow, or a 
divorced woman, with little ceremony. jSIost commonly, the 
mo'".her, or some other near female relation, of the youth or man 
who is desirous of obtaining a wife, describes to him the personal 
and other qualifications of the young women with whom she is 
acquainted, and directs his choice;* or he employs a "khat'beh" 
or "khatibeh," a woman whose regular business it is to assist 
men in such cases. Sometimes two or more women of this pro- 
fession, are employed. A khat'beh gives her report confidentially, 
desc?"ibing one gii"l as being like a gazelle, pi'etty and elegant and 
yoianp ; and another as not pretty but rich, and so forth. If the 
man have a mother and other near female relations, two or t^iree 
of these usually go with a khat'beh to pay visits to several hareems, 
to which she has access in her professional character of a match- 
^maker; for she is employed as much by the women as by the 
icien. She sometimes also exercises the trade of a '" delhileh " (or 
broker) for the sale of ornaments, clothing, etc., which procures 
her admission into almost every hareem. The women who ac- 
company her in search of a wife for their relation are introduced 
to the different hareems merely as -ordinary visitors, and as such, 
if disappointed, they soon take their leave, though the object of 
their visit is of course understood by the other party ; but if they 
find among the females of a family (and they are sure to see all 
who are marriageable) a girl or young woman having the necessary 
personal qualifications, they state the motive of their visit, and 
ask, if the proposed match be not at once disapproved of, what 
property, ornaments, etc., the object of their wishes may possess. 

* Abraham's sending a messenger to his own country to seek a wife for his son Isaac 
(see Gen. xxiv. ) was just such a measure as most modern Arabs would adopt under similar 


If tlie father of the intended bride be dead, she may perhaps 
possess one or more houses, shops, etc. ; and in ahnost every case, 
a marriageable gii'l of the middle or higher ranks has a set of 
ornaments of gold and jewels. The women visitors, having asked 
these and other questions, bring their report to the expectant 
youth or man. If satisfied with their report, he gives a present 
to the khat'beh, and sends her again to the family of his intended 
wife, to make known to them his wishes. She generally gives an 
exaggerated description of his personal attractions, wealth, etc. 
For instance, she will say of a very ordinary young man, of scarcely 
any property, and of whose disposition she knows nothing, " My 
daughter, the youth who Avishes to marry you is young, graceful, 
elegant, beardless, has plenty of money, dresses handsomely, is 
fond of delicacies, but cannot enjoy his luxuries alone ; he wants 
you as his companion ; he will give you everything that money can 
procure ; he is a staycr-at-home, and will spend his Avhole time 
with you, caressing and fondling you." 

The parents may betroth their daughter to whom they please, 
and marry her to him without her consent, if she be not arrived 
at the age of puberty ; but after she has attained that age, she 
may choose a husband for herself, and appoint any man to arrange 
and effect her marriage. In the formei- case, howe\'er, the khat'beh 
and the relations of a girl sought in mai-riage usually endeavour t 
obtain lier consent to the projDosed union. Very often a fatlue 
objects to giving a daughter in marriage to a man who is not c^x 
the same profession or trade as himself, and to marrying a younger 
daughter before an elder. (See Gen. xxix. 26.) The bridegroorii 
can scarcely ever obtain even a surreptitious glance at the features 
of his bride until he finds her in his absolute possession, unless, 
she belong to the lower classes of society, in which case it is easy 
enough for him to see her face. 

When a female is about to marry, she should have a " wekeel '' 
(or deputy) to settle the compact, and conclude the contract for 
her Avith her proposed husband. If she be under the age of 
puberty, this is absolutely necessary ; and in this case, her father, 
if living, or (if he be dead) her nearest adult male relation, or 
a guardian appointed by will or by the KAdee, performs the 
office of wekeel ; but if she be of age, she appoints her own 


wekeel, or may even make the contract herself, though this is 
seldom done. 

After a youth or man has made choice of a female to demand 
in marriage, on the report of his female relations or that of the 
khat'beh, and, by proxy, made the preliminary arrangements be- 
fore described with her and her relations in the hareem, he re- 
pairs with two or three of his friends to her wekeel. Having 
obtained the wekeel's consent to the union, if the intended l)ride 
be under age, he asks what is the amount of the required " mahr " 
(or dowry). 

The giving of a dowry is indispensable, as I have mentioned in 
a former chapter. It is generally calculated in "riyals," of ninety 
faddahs (now equivalent to five pence and two-fifths) each. The 
riyal is an imaginary money, not a coin. The usual amount of 
the dowry, if the parties be in possession of a moderately good 
income, is about a thousand riyals (or twenty-two pounds ten 
shillings), or sometimes not more than half that sum. The 
wealthy calculate the dowry in purses of five hundred piasters 
(now five pounds sterling) each, and fix its amount at ten purses 
or more. It must Ije borne in mind that we are considering the 
case of a virgin-bride ; the dowry of a widow or a divorced woman 
is much less. In settling the amount of the dowry, as in other 
pecuniary transactions, a little haggling frequently takes place. If 
a thousand riyals be demanded through the wekeel, the party of 
the intended liridegroom will probably make an offer of six hun- 
dred ; the former party then gradually lowering the demand, and 
the other increasing the offer, they at length agree to fix it at eight 
hundred. It is generally stipulated that two-thirds of the dowry 
shall be paid immediately before the marriage-contract is made, 
and the remaining third held in reserve, to be i)aid to the wife in 
case of divorcing her against her own consent, or in case of the 
husband's death. 

This affair being settled, and confirmed by all persons present 
reciting the opening chapter of the Kur-an (the Fat'hah), an early 
day (perhaps the day next following) is appointed for paying the 
money and performing the ceremony of the marriage-contract, 
which is properly called '"akd ennikah." The making this con- 
tract is commonly called "ketb el-kitab " (or the Avriting of the 


writ) ; but it is very seldom tlie case that any document is written 
to confirm the marriage, vinless the bridegroom is about to travel 
to another place, and fears that he may have occasion to prove his 
marriage where witnesses of the contract cannot be procured. 
Sometimes the marriage-contract is concluded immediately after 
the arrangement respecting the dowry, but more generally a day or 
two after. On the day apj^ointed for this ceremony, the bridegroom, 
again accompanied by two or three of his friends, goes to the house 
of the bride, usually about noon, taking with him that portion of 
the dowry which he has promised to pay on this occasion. He and 
his companions are received by the bride's wekecl ; and two or 
more friends of the latter are usually present. It is necessary 
that there be two witnesses (and those must be Muslims) to the 
marriage-contract, unless in a situation where witnesses cannot be 
procured. All persons present recite the Fat'hah, and the bride- 
groom then pays the money. After this the marriage-contract is 
performed. It is very simple. The bridegroom and the bride's 
wekeel sit upon the ground, face to face, with one knee upon the 
ground, and grasp each other's right hand, raising the thumbs 
and pressing them against each other. A fikee is generally em- 
j^loyed to instruct them what they ai'e to say. Having placed a 
handkerchief over their joined hands, he usually prefaces the 
words of the contract with a " kliutbeh," consisting of a few 
words of exhortation and prayer, with quotations from the Kur-an 
and Traditions on the excellency and advantages of marriage. 
He then desires the bride's wekeel to say, " I betroth [or many] 
to thee my daughter [or the female who has appointed me her 
wekeel], such a one [naming the bride], the virgin [or the adult 
virgin], for a dowry of such an amount." (The words "for a 
dowry," etc., are sometimes omitted.) The bride's wekeel having 
said this, the bridegroom, prompted in the same manner by the 
fikee, says, " I accept from thee her betrothal [or marriage] to 
myself, and take her under my care, and bind myself to afford 
her my protection ; and ye who are present bear witness of this." 
The wekeel addresses the bridegroom in the same manner a 
second and a third time, and each time the latter replies as before. 
They then generally add, "And blessing be on the Apostles, 
and praise be to God, the Lord of all creatures. Amen " — after 


which all present again repeat the Fat'hah. It is not always the 
same form of khutbeh that is recited on these occasions ; any 
form may be used, and it may be repeated by any person. It 
is not even necessary, and is often altogether omitted. The con- 
tract concluded, the bridegroom sometimes (but seldom, unless ho 
be a person of the lower orders) kisses the hands of his friends and 
others there present ; and they are presented with sherbet, and 
generally remain to dinner. Each of them receives an embroidered 
handkerchief, provided by the family of the bride, excepting the 
fikee, who receives a similar handkerchief, with a small gold coin 
tied up in it, from the bridegroom. Before the persons assembled 
on this occasion disperse, they settle when the " leylet ed-dukhleh" 
is to be : this is the night when the bride is brought to the house 
of the bridegroom, and the latter, for the first time, visits her. 

In general, the bridegroom waits for his bride about eight or 
ten days after the conclusion of the contract. Meanwhile he 
sends to her, two or three or more times, some fruit, sweetmeats, 
etc., and perhaps makes her a jDresent of a shawl or some other 
article of value. The bride's family are at the same time occupied 
in preparing for her a stock of household furniture (as deewans, 
matting, carpets, bedding, kitchen utensils, etc.) and dress. The 
portion of the dowry which has been paid by the bridegroom, 
and generally a much larger sum (the additional money, which is 
often more than the dowry itself, being supplied by the bride's 
family), is expended in purchasing the articles of furniture, dress, 
and ornaments for the bride. These articles, which are called 
" gahaz," are the property of the bride ; and if she be divorced, 
she takes them away with her. She camiot, therefore, with truth 
be said to be pur chased. The furniture is sent, commonly borne 
by a train of camels, to the bridegroom's house. Often among 
the articles of the gahaz is a chair for the turban or head-dress 
alluded to in a former page. It is of a large size, but slight 
make ; the bottom and back generally of cane-work ; sometimes 
with a canopy. It is never used to sit upon. The turban, when 
placed upon it, is covered with a kerchief of thick silk stuff, usu- 
ally ornamented with gold thread. There are sometimes sent two 
of these chairs — one for the husband, and the other for the wife. 

The bridecfroom should receive his bride on the eve of Fridav 


or that of Monday ; ^- but the former is generally esteemed the 
more foi'tunate period. Let us say, for instance, that the bride 
is to be conducted to him on the eve of Friday. During two or 
three or more preceding nights, the street or quarter in which the 
bridegroom lives is illuminated with chandeliers and lanterns, or 
with lanterns and small lamps, some suspended from coi'ds drawn 
across from the bridegroom's and several other houses on each 
side to the houses opposite ; and several small silk flags, each of 
two colours, generally red and gi'een, are attached to these or 
other cords. An entertainment is also given on each of these 
nights, particularly on the last night before that on which the 
wedding is concluded, at the bridegroom's house. On these 
occasions, it is customary for the persons invited, and for all 
intimate friends, to send presents to his house a day or two 
before the feast which they purpose or expect to attend. They 
generally send sugar, coffee, rice, wax-candles, or a lamb ; the 
former articles are usually placed upon a tray of copper or wood, 
and covered with a silk or embroidered kerchief. The guests are 
entertained on these occasions by musicians and male or female 
singers, by dancing-girls, or by the performance of a " khatmeh " 
or a " zikr." 

In the houses of the wealthy, the khat'beh or khat'behs, to- 
gether with the "dayeh" (or midwife) of the family, the "bel- 
laneh " (or female attendant of the bath), and the nurse of the 
bride, are each presented, a day or two after the conclusion of 
the contract, with a piece of gold stuff, a Kashmeer shawl, or a 
piece of striped silk, such as yeleks and shintiyans are made of; 
and placing these over the left shoulder, and attaching the edges 
together on the right side, go upon asses, with two or more men 
before them beating kettledrums or tabours, to the houses of all 
the friends of the bride, to invite the females to accompany her 
to and from the bath, and to partake of an entertainment given on 
that occasion. At every house where they call they are treated 
with a repast, having sent notice the day before of their intended 
visit. They are called "mudnat." I have sometimes seen them 
walking, and without the drums before them, but making up for 
the want of these instruments by shrill, quavering cries of joy 
called " zauhareet." 


On the preceding Wednesday (or on the Saturday if the wedding 
be to conclude on the eve of Monday), at about the hour of noon, 
or a little later, the bride goes in state to the bath. The pro- 
cession to the bath is called " Zeffet el-Hammam." It is headed 
by a party of musicians with a hautboy or two, and drums of 
different kinds. Frequently, as I have mentioned in a former 
chapter, some person avails himself of this opportunity to parade 
his young son previously to circumcision ; the child and his 
attendants, in this case, follow next after the musicians, in the 
manner already described. Sometimes at the Jiead of the bride's 
party are two men who carry the utensils and linen used in the 
bath, upon two round trays, each of which is covered with an 
embroidered or a plain silk kerchief ; also a sakka, who gives 
water to any of the passengers, if asked ; and two other persons, 
one of whom bears a " kumkum," or bottle, of plain or gilt silver, 
or of china, containing rose water or orange-flower water, which 
he occasionally sprinkles on the passengers, — and the other a 
" mibkhai''ah " (or perfuming vessel) of silver, with aloes-wood, or 
some other odoriferous substance, burning in it : but it is seldom 
that the procession is thus attended. In general, the first per- 
sons among tlie bride's party are sevei^l of her married female 
relations and friends, walking in pairs ; and next, a number of 
young virgins. The former are dressed in the usual manner, 
covered with the black silk habarah ; the latter have white silk 
habarahs, or shawls. Then follows the bride, walking under a 
canopy of silk of some gay colour, as pink, rose colour, or yellow, 
or of two colours composing wide stripes, often rose colour and 
yellow. It is carried by four men, by means of a pole at each 
corner, and is open only in front ; and at the top of each of the 
four poles is attached an embroidered handkerchief. The dress 
of the bride during this procession entirely conceals her person. 
She is generally covered from head to foot with a red Kashmeer 
shawl, or with a white or yellow shawl, though rarely. Upon her 
head is placed a small pasteboard cap or crown. The shawl is 
placed over this, and conceals from the view of the public the 
richer articles of her dress, her face, and her jewels, etc., excepting 
one or two " kussahs " (and sometimes other ornaments), generally 
of diamonds and emeralds, attached to that part of the shawl 

(440) 12 


which covers her forehead. She is accompanied by two or three 
of her female relations within the canopy ; and often, when in hot 
weather, a woman, walking backwards before her, is constantly 
employed in fanning her with a large fan of black ostrich-feathers, 
the lower part of the front of which is usually ornamented with 
a piece of looking-glass. Sometimes one zeffeh, with a single 
canopy, serves for two brides, who walk side by side. The pro- 
cession moves very slowly, and generally pursues a circuitovis route, 
for the sake of greater display. On leaving the house it turns to 
the right. It is closed by a second party of musicians, similar to 
the first, or by two or three drummers. 

In the bridal processions of the lower orders, which are often 
conducted in the same manner as that above described, the women 
of the party frequently utter at intervals those shrill cries of joy 
called zaghareet which I have before had occasion to mention ; 
and females of the poorer classes, when mei'ely spectators of a 
zefFeh, often do the same. 

The whole bath is sometimes hired for the bride and her part}^ 
exclusively. They pass several hours, or seldom less than two, 
occupied in washing, sporting, and feasting ; and frequently 
"'A'l'mehs" (or female singers) are hired to amuse them in the 
bath. They then return in the same order in which they came. 
The expense of the zeffeh falls on the relations of the bride, but 
the feast is supplied by the bi'idegroom. 

Having returned from the bath to the house of her family, the 
bride and her companions sup together. If 'ATmehs have con- 
tributed to the festivity in the bath, they also return with the 
bride to renew their concert. Their songs are always on the 
subject of love, and of the joyous event which occasions their 
presence. After the company have been thus entertained, a large 
quantity of henna having been prepared, mixed into a paste, the 
bride takes a lumj) of it in her hand, and receives contributions 
(called "nukoot") from her guests. Each of them sticks a co\\\ 
(usually of gold) in the henna which she holds upon her hand ; 
and when the lump is closely stuck with these coins, she scrapes 
it off" her hand upon the edge of a basin of water. Having col- 
lected in this manner from all her guests, some more henna is 
applied to her hands and feet, which are then bound with pieces 


of linen ; and in this state they remain until the next morning, 
when they are found to be sufficiently dyed -with its deep orange- 
red tint. Her guests make use of the remainder of the dye for 
their own hands. This night is called "Leylet el-Henna," or 
"the Is'ight of the Henna." 

It is on this night, and sometimes also during the latter half 
of the preceding day, that the bridegroom gives his chief enter- 
tainment. " Mohabbazeen " (or low farce-players) often perform 
on this occasion before the house, or if it be lai'ge enough, in the 
court. The other and more common performances by which the 
guests are amused have been before mentioned. 

On the following day the bride goes in procession to the house 
of the bridegroom. The procession before described is called " the 
zefi'eh of the bath," to distinguish it from this, which is the more 
important, and which is therefore particularly called " Zeffet el- 
'Arooseh," or "the ZefFeh of the Bride." In some cases, to dimin- 
ish the expenses of the marriage ceremonies, the bride is conducted 
privately to the bath, and only honoured with a zefFeh to the 
bridegroom's house. This procession is exactly similar to the 
former. The bride and her party, after breakfasting together, 
generally set out a little after mid-day. They proceed in the 
same order, and at the same slow pace, as in the zeffeh of the 
bath ; and, if the house of the bridegroom be near, they follow a 
circuitous route, through several principal streets, for the sake of 
display. The ceremony usually occupies three or more hours. 

•Sometimes before bridal processions of this kind, two swords- 
men, clad in nothing but their drawers, engage each other in a 
mock combat ; or two peasants cudgel each other with nebboots, 
or long staves. In the procession of a bride of a wealthy family, 
any person who has the art of performing some extraordinary feat 
to amuse the spectators is almost sure of being a welcome assist- 
ant, and of receiving a handsome present. ^'^ When the seyyid 
'Omar, the Nakeeb el-Ashraf (or chief of the descendants of the 
Prophet), who was the main instrument of advancing Mohammad 
'Alee to the dignity of Basha of Egypt, married a daughter, about 
twenty-seven years since, there walked before the procession a 
young man who had made an incision in his abdomen, and drawn 
out a large portion of his intestines, which he carried before him 


on a silver tray. After the procession lie restored them to their 
proper place, and remained in bed many days before he recovered 
from the effects of this foolish and disgusting act. Another man, 
on the same occasion, I'an a sword through his arm, before the 
crowding spectators, and then bound over the wound, without 
withdrawing the sword, several handkerchiefs, which were soaked 
with the blood. These facts were described to me by an eye- 
witness. A spectacle of a more singular and more disgusting 
nature used to be not uncommon on similar occasions, but is now 
very seldom witnessed. Sometimes, also, " hawees " (or conjurers 
and sleight-of-hand performers) exhibit a variety of tricks on these 
occasions. But the most common of all the performances here 
mentioned are the mock fights. Similar exhibitions are also some- 
times witnessed on the occasion of a circumcision. 

The bride and her party having arrived at the bridegroom's 
house, sit down to a repast. Her friends shortly after take their 
departure, leaving with her only her mother and sister, or other 
near female relations, and one or two other women, usually the 
bellaneh. The ensuing night is called "Leylet ed-l)ukhleh," or 
"the Night of the Entrance." 

The bridegroom sits below. Before sunset he goes to the bath, 
and there changes his clothes ; or he merely does the latter at 
home, and, after having supped with a party of his friends, waits 
till a little before the " 'eshe '.' (or time of the night-prayer), or 
until the third or fourth hour of the night, when, according to 
general custom, he should repair to some celebrated mosque, such 
as that of the Hasaneyn, and there say his prayers. If young, he 
is generally honoured with a zefFeh on this occasion. He goes to 
the mosque preceded by musicians with drums and one or more 
hautboys, and accompanied by a number of friends, and b}'' several 
men bearing " mesh'als." The mesh'al is a staff with a cylindrical 
frame of iron at the top filled with flaming wood, or having two, 
three, four, or five of these receptacles for fire. The party usually 
proceeds to the mosque with a quick pace, and without much 
order. A second group of musicians, with the same instruments, 
or with drums only, closes the procession. The bridegroom is 
generally dressed in a kuftan with red stripes, and a red gibbeh, 
with a Kashmeer shawl of the same colour for his turban ; and 


walks between two friends similarly dressed. The prayers are 
commonly performed merely as a matter of ceremony ; and it is 
frequently the case that the bridegroom does not pray at all, or 
prays without having previously performed the wudoo, like Mem- 
looks, who say their prayers only because they fear their master. 
The procession returns from the mosque with more order and dis- 
play, and very slowly ; perhaps because it would be considered 
unbecoming in the bridegroom to hasten home to take possession 
of his bride. It is headed, as before, by musicians, and two or 
more bearers of mesh'als. These ai'e generally followed by two 
men, bearing, by means of a pole resting horizontally upon their 
shoulders, a hanging frame, to which are attached about sixty or 
more small lamps, in four circles, one above another, the upper- 
most of which circles is made to revolve, being turned round 
occasionally by one of the two bearers. These numerous lamps, 
and several mesh'als besides those before mentioned, brilliantly 
illumine the streets through which the procession passes, and 
produce a remarkably picturesque effect. The bridegi'oom and 
his friends and other attendants follow, advancing in the form of 
an oblong I'ing, all facing the interior of the ring, and each bear- 
ing in his hand one or more wax-candles, and sometimes a sprig 
of henna or some other flower, excepting the bridegrooin and the 
friend on either side of him. These three form the latter part of 
the ring, which generally consists of twenty or more [)ersons. At 
frequent intervals the party stops for a few minutes, and during 
each of these pauses a boy or man, one of the persons who com- 
pose the ring, sings a few words of an epithalamium. The sounds 
of the drums and the shrill notes of the hautboy (which the bride 
hears half-an-hour or more before the procession arrives at the 
liouse) cease during these songs. The train is closed, as in the 
former case, by a second group of musicians. 

In the manner above described the bridegroom's zefFeh is most 
commonly conducted ; but there is another mode that is more 
respectable, called "zefFeh sadatee," which signifies "the gentle- 
men's zeffeh." In this the bridegroom is accompanied by his 
friends in the same manner as before related, and attended and 
preceded by men bearing mesh'als, but not by musicians. In the 
place of these are about six or eight men, who, from their being 

j82 domestic life. 

employed as singers on occasions of tliis kind, are called -wilad 
el-lliyalee," or "sons -of the nights." Thus attended he goes to 
the mosque ; and while he returns slowly thence to his house, the 
sin-ers above mentioned chant, or rather sing, " muweshshahs " 
(or'lyric odes) in praise of the Prophet. Having returned to the 
house, these same persons chant portions of the Kur-an, one after 
another, for the amusement of the guests ; then all together recite 
the opening chapter (the Fat'hah) ; after which one of them smgs 
a "kaseedeh" (or short poem) in praise of the Prophet ; lastly, all 
of them again sing muweshshahs. And having thus performed, 
they receive nukoot (or contributions of money) from the bride- 
groom and his friends. 

Soon after his return from the mosque, the bridegroom leaves 
his friends in a lo^yer apartment, enjoying their pipes and coffee 
and sherbet. The bride's mother and sister, or whatever other 
female relations were left with her, are above ; and the bride her- 
self, and the bellaneh, in a separate apartment. If the bride- 
groom be a youth or young man, it is considered proper that he, 
as well as the bride, should exhibit some degree of bashfulness. 
One of his friends, therefore, carries him a part of the way up to 
the hareem. On entering the bride's apartment he gives a present 
to the bellaneh, and she retires. The bride has a shawl thrown 
over her head ; and the bridegroom must give her a present of 
money, which is called "the price of the uncovering of the face," 
before he attempts to remove this, which slie does not allow him 
to do without some apparent reluctance, if not violent resistance, 
in order to show her maiden modesty. On removing the covering, 
he says, " In the name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful,'^^ 
and then greets her with this compliment, " The night be blessed," 
or "is blessed ;" to which she replies, if timidity do not choke her 
utterance, " God bless thee." The bridegroom now sees the face 
of his bride for the first time, and generally finds her nearly what 
he has been led to expect. He remains with her but a few min- 
utes longer. Having satisfied his curiosity respecting her personal 
charms, he calls to the women (who generally collect at the door, 
Avhere they wait in anxious suspense) to raise their cries of joy, or 
zaghareet ; and the shrill sounds acquaint the persons below and 
in the neighbourhood, and often, responded by other women, spread 


still further the news that he has acknowledged himself satisfied 
with his bride. He soon afterwards descends to rejoin his friends, 
and remains with them an hour or more before he returns to his 
wife. It very seldom happens that the husband, if disappointed 
in his bride, immediately disgraces and divorces her ; in general 
he retains her, in this case, a week or more. 

Having now described the most usual manner in which the 
marriages of virgin-brides are conducted in Cairo, I may add a 
few words on some of the ceremonies observed in other cases of 
matrimony, both of virgins and of widows or divorced women. 

The daughters of the great generally having baths in their own 
houses, seldom go to the public bath previously to marriage. A 
bride of a wealthy family, and her female relations and friends, if 
there be not a bath in her house, go to the public bath, which is 
hired for them exclusively, and to the bridegroom's house, without 
music or canopy, mounted on asses; the bride herself generally 
wearing a Kashmeer shawl, in the manner of a habarah. 

If the bridegroom or the bride's family have eunuchs, these 
ride before the bride ; and sometimes a man runs at the head of 
the procession, crying, " Bless ye the Prophet ! " This man, on 
entering the house, throws down upon the threshold some leaves 
of the white beet (" salk "), over which the ladies ride. The object 
of this act is to propitiate fortune. The same man then exclaims, 
" Assistance from God, and a speedy victory ! " 

Marriages among the Egyptians are sometimes conducted with- 
out any pomp or ceremony, even in the case of virgins, by mutual 
consent of the bridegroom and the bride's family, or the bride 
herself j and widows and divorced women are never honoured 
with a zeffeh on marrying again. The mere sentence, " I give 
myself up to thee," uttered by a female to a man who proposes to 
become her husband (even without the presence of witnesses, if 
none can easily be procured), renders her his legal wife, if arrived 
at puberty ; and marriages with widows and divorced women, 
among the Muslims of Egypt and other Arabs, are sometimes 
concluded in this simple manner. The dowry of such women is 
generally one quarter or third or half the amount of that of a 

In Cairo, among persons not of the lowest order, though in 


veiy humble life, the marriage ceremonies are conducted in the 
same manner as among the middle orders. But when the expenses 
of such zeffehs as I have described cannot by any means be paid, 
the bride is paraded in a very simple manner, covered with a 
shawl (generally red), and surrounded by a gi'oup of her female 
relations and friends, dressed in their best, or in l>orrowed clothes, 
and enlivened by no other sounds of joy than their zaghareet, 
which they repeat at frequent intervals. 

The general mode of zeffeh among the inhabitants of the vil- 
lages is different from those above described. The bride, usually 
covered with a shawl, is seated on a camel, and so conveyed to the 
bridegroom's dwelling. Sometimes four or live women or girls 
sit with her on the same camel, one on either side of her, and two 
or three others behind — the seat being made very wide, and usually 
covered with carpets or other drapery. She is followed Ijy a group 
of women singing. In the evening of the wedding, and often 
during several previous evenings, in a village, the male and female 
friends of the two parties meet at the bridegroom's house, and 
pass several hours of the night in the open air, amusing themselves 
with songs and a rude kind of dance, accompanied by the sounds 
of a tambourine or some kind of drum. Both sexes sing, but only 
the women dance. I have introduced here these few words on 
the marriage ceremonies of the peasantry to avoid scattering notes 
on subjects of the same nature. I now revert to the customs of 
the people of Cairo. 

On the morning after the marriage, " khawals " or "ghazee- 
yehs " (dancing men or girls) perform in the street before the bride- 
groom's house, or in the court. On the same morning also, if the 
bridegroom be a young man, the person who carried him upstairs 
generally takes him and .several friends to an entertainment in 
the country, where they sjaend the whole day This cei'emony is 
called " el-huroobeh," or the flight. Sometimes the bridegroom 
himself makes the arrangements for it, and pays part of the 
expenses, if they exceed the amount of the contributions of his 
friends ; for they give nukoot on this occasion. Musicians and 
dancing-girls are often hired to attend the entertainment. If the 
bridegroom be a person of the lower orders, he is conducted l)ack 
ill procession, preceded by three or four musicians with drums and 


hautboys, his friends and otliei' attendants carrying each a nose- 
gay, as in the zefFeh of the preceding night ; and if their return be 
after sunset, they are accompanied by men bearing mesh'als, lamps, 
etc.^ and the friends of the bridegroom carry lighted wax-candles 
besides the nosegays. ^^ )Subsequent festivities occasioned by mar- 
riage will be described in a later chapter. 

The husband, if he can conveniently so arrange, generally pre- 
fers that his mother should reside with him and his wife, that she 
may protect his wife's honour, and consequently his own also. It 
is said that the mother-in-law is, for this reason, called "hamah." 
The women of Egypt are said to be generally prone to criminal 
intrigues, and I fear that in this respect they are not unjustly 
accused. Sometimes a husband keeps his wife in the house of her 
mother, and pays the daily expenses of both. This ought to make 
the mother very careful with regard to expenditure, and strict as 
to her daughter's conduct, lest the latter should be divorced ; but 
it is said that in this case she often acts as her daughter's procur- 
ess, and teaches her innumerable tricks by which to gain the upper 
hand over her husband, and to drain his purse. The influence of 
the wife's mother is also scarcely less feared when she only enjoys 
occasional opportunities of seeing her daughter. Hence it is held 
more prudent for a man to marry a female who has neither mother 
nor any near relations of her own sex ; and some wives are even 
prohibited receiving any female friends but those who are relations 
of the husband. Tliey are very few, however, upon whom such 
severe restrictions are imposed. 

For a person who has become familiar with male Muslim 
society in Cairo, without marrying, it is not so difficult as might 
be imagined by a stranger to obtain, directly and indirectly, correct 
and ample information respecting the condition and habits of the 
women. Many husbands of the middle classes, and some of the 
higher orders, freely talk of the affairs of the hareem with one 
who professes to agree with them in their general moral senti- 
ments, if they have not to converse through the medium of an 

Though the women have a particular portion of the house 
allotted to them, the vnves in general are not to be regarded as 
prisoners ; for they are usually at liberty to go out and pay visits, 


as well as to receive female visitors, almost as often as they please. 
The slaves, indeed, being subservient to the wives as well as to 
their master, or, if subject to the master only, being under an 
authority almost unlimited, have not that liberty. One of the 
chief objects of the master in appropriating a distinct suite of 
apartments to his women, is to prevent their being seen ))y the 
male domestics and other men without being covered in the man- 
ner prescribed by their religion. The following words of the 
Kur-an show the necessity under which a Muslim'eh is placed of 
concealing whatever is attractive in her person or attire from all 
men, excepting certain relations and some other persons : — " And 
speak unto the believing women, that they restrain their eyes, 
and preserve their modesty, and discover not their ornaments, 
except what [necessarily] appeareth thereof. And let them throw 
their veils over their bosoms, and not show their ornaments, un- 
less to their husbands, or their fathers, or their husbands' fathers, 
or their sons, or their husbands' sons, or their brothers, or their 
brothers' sons, or their sisters' sons, or their women, or those 
[captives] which their right hands shall possess, or unto such men 
as attend [them] and have no need of [women], or unto children;" 
" and let them not make a noise with their feet, that their orna- 
ments which they hide may [thereVjy] be discovered." The last 
passage alludes to the practice of knocking together the anklets 
which the Arab women in the time of the Pro^Dhet used to wear, 
and which are still worn by many women in Egypt. 

I must here transcribe two notes of eminent commentators on 
the Kur-an, in illustration of the above extract, and inserted in 
Sale's translation. This I do because they would convey an 
erroneous idea of modern customs with regard to the admission 
or non-admission of certain persons into the hareem. The hrst is 
on the above words, " or their women," which it thus exj^lains : — 
"That is, such as are of the Mohammadan religion; it being 
reckoned by some unlawful, or at least indecent, for a woman 
who is a true believer to uncover herself before one who is an 
infidel, because the latter will hardly refrain from desci'ibing her 
to the men. But others sujDpose all women in general are here 
accepted, for in this particular doctors difier." In Egypt, and 
I believe in every other Muslim country, it is not now considered 


Page 186. 


improper for any woman, whether mdependent, or a servant, or a 
slave, a Christian, a Jewess, a Muslim'eh, or a pagan, to enter a 
Muslim's hareem. The second of the notes above alluded to is on 
the words " or those captives," and is as follows : — " Slaves of 
either sex are included in this exception, and, as some think, 
domestic servants who are not slaves, as those of a different 
nation. It is related that Mohammad once made a present of a 
man-slave to his daughter Fatimeh ; and when he brought him to 
her, she had on a garment which was so scanty that she was 
obliged to leave either her head or her feet uncovered ; and that 
the Prophet, seeing her in great confusion on that account, told 
her she need be under no concern, for that there was none present 
but her father and her slave." Among the Arabs of the desert 
this may still be the case ; but in Egypt I have never heard of an 
instance of an adult male slave being allowed to see the hareem of 
a respectable man, whether he belonged to that hareem or not, 
and am assured that it is never permitted. Perhaps the reason 
why the man-slave of a woman is allowed this privilege by the 
Kur-an is, because she cannot become his lawful wife as long as 
he continues her slave. But this is a poor reason for granting 
him access to the hareem in such a state of society. It is re- 
markable that in the verse of the Kur-an above quoted uncles are 
not mentioned as privileged to see their nieces unveiled. Some 
think that they are not admissible, and for this reason, lest they 
should describe the persons of their nieces to their sons ; for it is 
regarded as highly improper for a man to describe the features or 
person of a female (as to say that she has large eyes, a straight 
nose, small mouth, etc.) to one of his own sex by whom it is un- 
lawful for her to be seen, though it is not considered indecorous 
to describe her in general terms, as, for instance, to say, " She is 
a sweet girl, and set off with kohl and henna." 

It may be mentioned here, as a general rule, that a man is 
allowed to see unveiled only his own wives and female slaves, 
and those females whom he is prohibited by law from marrying, 
on account of their being within certain degrees of consanguinity 
or family connection, or having given hiin suck, or being nearly 
related to his foster-mother. The high antiquity of the veil has 
been alluded to in the first chapter of this work. It has also been 


mentioned that it is considered more necessary in Egypt for a 
woman to cover the upper and back part of her head than her 
face, and more requisite for her to conceal her face than most 
other parts of her person. For instance, a female who caimot be 
persuaded to unveil her face in the presence of men, will think it 
but little shame to display the whole of her bosom or the greater 
part of her leg. There are, it is true, many women among the 
lower classes in this country who constantly appear in public with 
unveiled face; but they are almost constrained to do so by the 
want of a burko' (or face- veil), and the difficulty of adjusting the 
tarhah (or head-veil), of which scarcely any woman is destitute, so 
as to supply the place of the former— particularly Avhen both their 
liands are occupied in holding some burden which they are carry- 
ing upon the head. When a respectable woman is, by any chance, 
seen with her head or face uncovered by a man who is not en- 
titled to enjoy that privilege, she quickly assumes or adjusts her 
tarhah, and often exclaims, "Oh my misfortune!" or "Oh my 
sorrow ! " Motives of coquetry, however, frequently induce an 
Egyptian woman to expose her face before a man when she thinks 
that she may appear to do so unintentionally, or that she may be 
supposed not to see him. A man may also occasionally enjoy 
opportunities of seeing the face of an Egyptian lady when she 
really thinks herself unobserved ; sometimes at an open lattice, 
and sometimes on a house-top. Many small houses in Cairo 
have no apartment on the ground-floor for the reception of male 
visitors, who therefore ascend to an ui)per room ; but as they go 
upstairs they exclaim several times, " Destoor ! " (" Permission !"), 
or " Ya Satir ! "' (" O Protector ! " that is, " O protecting God ! "), 
or use some similar ejaculation, in order to warn any woman who 
may happen to be in the way to retire or to veil herself ; which 
she does by drawing a pax-t of her tarhah before her face, so as to 
leave, at most, only one eye visible. To such an absurd pitch do 
the Muslims carry their feeling of the sacredness of women, that 
entrance into the tomhs of some females is denied to men — as, for 
instance, the tombs of the Prophet's Avives and other females of 
his family, in the burial-ground of El-Medeeneh, into which 
women are freely admitted — and a man and woman they never 
bury in the same vault, unless a wall separate the bodies. Yet 


Pase /SS. 


there are among the Egyptians a few persons who are much less 
particular in this respect ; such is one of my Muslim friends here, 
who generally allows me to see his mother when I call upon him. 
She is a widow, of about fifty yeai'S of age ; but being very fat, 
and not looking so old, she calls herself forty. She usually comes 
to the door of the apartment of the hareem in which I am re- 
ceived (there being no lower apartment in the house for male 
visitors), and sits there upon the floor, but will never enter the 
room. Occasionally, and as if by accident, she shows me the 
whole of her face, with plenty of kohl round her eyes ; and does 
not attempt to conceal her diamonds, emeralds, and other orna- 
ments, but rather the reverse. The wife, however, I am never 
permitted to see, though once T was allowed to talk to her, in the 
presence of her hasband, round the corner of a passage at the top 
of the stairs. 

I believe that in Egypt the women are generally under less 
restraint than in any other country of the Turkish Empire ; so that 
it is not uncommon to see females of the lower orders flirting and 
jesting with men in public, and men laying their hands upon them 
very freely. Still, it might be imagined that the women of the 
higher and middle classes feel themseh'es severely oppressed, and 
are much discontented with the state of seclusion to which they 
are subjected ; but this is not commonly the case. On the con- 
trary, an Egyptian wife who is attached to her husband is apt to 
think, if he allows her unusual liberty, that he neglects her, and 
does not sufiiciently love her, and to envy those wives who are 
kept and watched with greater strictness. 

It is not very common for an Egyptian to have more than 
one wife, or a concubine-slave, though the law allows him four 
wives (as I have before stated), and, according to common opinion, 
as many concubine-slaves as he may choose. But though a man 
restrict himself to a single wife, he may change as often as he 
desires ; and there are certainly not many persons in Cairo who 
have not divorced one wife, if they have been long married. 
The husband may, whenever he pleases, say to his wife, "Thou 
art divorced ; " if it be his wish, whether reasonable or not, she 
must return to her parents or friends. This liability to an un- 
merited divorcement is the source of more uneasiness to many 


wives than all tlie other troubles to which they are exposed, as 
they may thereby be reduced to a state of great destitution ; but 
to others, who hope to better their condition, it is, of course, 
exactly the reverse. I have mentioned, in a former chapter, that 
a man may divorce his wife twice, and each time receive her again 
without any ceremony ; but that he cannot legally take her again 
after a third divorce until she has been married and divorced by 
another man. The consequences of a triple divorce conveyed in 
one sentence are the same, unless the man and his wife agree to 
infringe the law, or the former deny his having pronounced the 
sentence ; in which latter case the woman may have much diffi- 
culty to enforce his compliance with the law, if she be inclined 

to do so. 

In illustration of this subject, I may mention a case in which 
an acquaintance of mine was concerned as a witness of the sen- 
tence of divorce. He was sitting in a coffee-shop with two other 
men, one of whom had just been irritated by something that his 
wife had said or done. After a short conversation upon this affair, 
the angry husband sent for his wife, and as soon as she came 
said to her, "Thou art trebly divorced;" then addressing his two 
companions, he added, "You, my brothers, are witnesses." 
Shortly after, however, he repented of this act, and wished to 
take back his divorced wife ; but she refused to return to him, and 
appealed to the " Shara Allah " (or Law of God). The case was 
tried at the I^Iahkem'eh. The woman, who was the plaintiff, 
stated that the defendant was her husband ; that he had pronounced 
against her the sentence of a triple divorce ; and that he now 
wished her to return to him, and live with him as his wife, con- 
trary to the law, and consequently in a state of sin. The defendant 
denied that he had divorced her. "Have you witnesses?" said 
the judge to the plaintiff She answered, " I have here two wit- 
nesses." These were the men who were present in the coffee-shop 
when the sentence of divorce was pronounced. They were desired 
to give their evidence, and they stated that the defendant divorced 
his wife by a triple sentence in their presence. The defendant 
averred that she whom he had divorced in the coffee-shop was 
another wife of his. The plaintiff declared that he had no other 
wdfe ; but the judge observed to her that it was impossible she 


could know that, and asked the witnesses what was the name of 
the woman whom the defendant divorced in their presence. 
They answered that they were ignorant of her name. They were 
then asked if they could swear that the plaintiff' was the woman 
who was divorced before them. Their reply was that they could 
not swear to a woman whom they had never seen unveiled. 
Under these circumstances, the judge thought it advisable to dis- 
miss the case, and the woman was obliged to return to her hus- 
band. She might have demanded that he should produce the 
woman whom he professed to have divorced in the coffee-shop ; 
but he would easily have found a woman to play the part he re- 
quired, as it would not have been necessary for her to show a 
marriage certificate — marriages being almost always performed in 
Egypt without any written contract, and sometimes even without 

It not unfrequently happens that when a man avIio has divorced 
his wife the third time wishes to take her again (she herself con- 
senting to their reunion, and there being no witnesses to the 
sentence of divorce), he does so without conforming with the 
offensive law before mentioned. It is also a common custom for 
a man under similar circumstances to employ a person to marry 
the divorced woman on the condition of his resigning her, the 
day after their union, to him, her former husband, whose wife she 
again becomes, by a second contract ; though this is plainly 
contrary to the spirit of the law. The wife, however, can with- 
hold her consent, unless she is not of age ; in which case her 
father, or other lawful guardian, may marry her to whom he 
pleases. A poor man (generally a very ugly person, and often 
one who is blind) is usually chosen to perform this office. He is 
termed a " Mustahall," or "Mustahill," or a "Mohallil." It is 
often the case that the man thus employed is so pleased with the 
beauty of the woman to whom he is introduced on these terms, or 
with her riches, that he I'efuses to give her up ; and the law can- 
not compel him to divorce her, unless he act unjustly towards her 
as her husband, which of course he takes good care not to do. 
But a person may employ a mustahall without running this risk. 
It is the custom of many wealthy Turks, and of some of the jieople 
of Egypt, to make use of a slave, generally a black, their own 


property, to officiate in this character. Sometimes a slave is 
purchased for this purpose ; or, if the person who requires him for 
such a service be acquainted with a slave-dealer, he asks from the 
latter a present of a slave, signifying that he will give him back 
again. The uglier the slave the better. The Tui'ks generally 
choose one not arrived at puberty, which the tenets of their sect 
allow. As soon as the woman has accomplished her " 'eddeh " 
(or the period during which she is obliged to wait before she can 
marry again), the husband who divorced her, having previously 
obtained her consent to what he is about to do, introduces the 
slave to her, and asks her if she will be married to him. She 
replies that she will. She is accordingly Avedded to the slave, in 
the presence of witnesses, and a dowry is given to her, to make 
the marriage perfectly legal. The slave consummates the mar- 
riage, and thus becomes the woman's legitimate husliand. Im- 
mediately after, or on the following morning, her former husband 
presents this slave to her as her own property, and the moment 
that she accepts him her marriage with him becomes dissolved ; 
for it is unlawful for a woman to be the wife of her own slave, 
though she may emancipate a slave and then marry him. As 
soon as her marriage is dissolved by her accepting the gift of the 
slave, she may give back this slave to her husband ; but it seldom 
happens that the latter will allow a person who has been a musta- 
hall for him to remain in his house. The wife, after this proceed- 
ing, may, as soon as she has again accomplished her 'eddeh, become 
reunited to her former husband, after having been separated from 
him, by the necessity of her fulfilling two 'eddehs, about half a 
year, or perhaps more. 

That the facility of divorce has depraving effects upon both 
sexes may be easily imagined. There are many men in this 
country who in the course of ten years have married as many as 
twenty, thirty, or more wives ; and women not far advanced in 
age who have been wives to a dozen or more men successively. 
I have heard of men who have been in the habit of marrying a 
new wife almost every month. A person may do this although 
possessed of very little property. He may choose, from among the 
females of the lower orders in the streets of Cairo, a handsome 
young widow or divorced woman who will consent to become his 


wife for a dowry of about ten shillings ; and when he di\orces her, 
he need not give her more than double that sum to maintain her 
during her ensuing 'eddeh. It is but just, however, to add that 
such conduct is generally regarded as very disgraceful, and that 
few parents in the middle or higher classes will give a daughter in 
marriage to a man who has divorced many wives. 

Polygamy, which is also attended with very injurious effects 
upon the morals of the husband and the wives, and only to be 
defended because it serves to prevent a greater immorality than it 
occasions, is more i^are among the higher and middle classes than 
it is among the lower orders ; and it is not very common among 
the latter. A poor man may indulge himself with two or more 
wives, each of whom may be able, by some art or occupation, 
nearly to provide her own subsistence ; but most persons of the 
middle and higher orders are deterred from doing so by the con- 
sideration of the expense and discomfort which they would incur. 
A man having a wife who has the misfortune to be barren, and 
being too much attached to her to divoi-ce her, is sometimes 
induced to take a second wife, merely in the hope of obtaining 
offspring ; and from the same motive he may take a third and 
a fourth ; but fickle passion is the most evident and common 
motive both to polygamy and repeated divorces. They are com- 
paratively very few who gratify this passion by the former prac- 
tice, I believe that not more than one husband among twenty 
has two wives. 

When there are two or more wives belonging to one man, the 
first (that is, the one first married) generally enjoys the highest 
rank, and is called " the great lady." Hence it often happens 
that when a man who has already one wife wishes to marry 
another girl or woman, the father of the latter, or the female 
herself who is sought in marriage, will not consent to the union 
unless the first wife be previously divorced. The women, of 
course, do not approve of a man's maiTying more than one wife. 
Most men of wealth, or of moderate circumstances, and even 
many men of the lower orders, if they have two or more wives, 
have for each a separate house. The wife has, or can oblige her 
husband to give her, a particular description of lodging, which is 
either a separate house, or a suite of apartments (consisting of a 

(440) 13 


room in which to sleep and pass the day, a kitchen, and a latrina) 
that are, or may be made, separate and shut out from any other 
apartments in the same house. A fellow-wife is called "durrah." 
The quarrels of duri'ahs are often talked of ; for it may be 
naturally inferred that when two wives share the affection and 
attentions of the same man, they are not always on terms of amity 
with each other ; and the same is generally the case with a wife 
and a concubine-slave living in the same house and under similar 
circumstances. If the chief lady be barren, and an inferior, 
either wife or slave, bear a child to her husband or master, it 
commonly results that the latter woman becomes a favourite of 
the man, and that the chief wife or mistress is " despised in her 
eyes," as Abraham's wife was in the eyes of Hagar on the same 
account. It therefore not very unfrequently happens that the 
first wife loses her rank and privileges ; another becomes the chief 
lady, and, being the favourite of her husband, is treated by her 
rival or rivals, and by all the members and visitors of the hareem, 
with the same degree of outward respect which the first wife 
previously enjoyed ; but sometimes the poisoned cup is employed 
to remove her. A preference given to a second wife is often the 
cause of the first's being registered as " nashizeh," either on her 
husband's or her own application at the Mahkem'eh. Yet many 
instances are known of neglected wives behaving with exemplary 
and unfeigned submission to their husband in such cases, and with 
amiable good-nature towards the favourite. ^^ 

Some wives have female slaves who are their own proj^erty, 
generally purchased for them, or presented to them, before 
marriage. These cannot be the husband's concubines without 
their mistress's permission, which is sometimes granted (as it was 
in the case of Hagar, Sai^ah's bondwoman), but very seldom 
Often the wife will not even allow her female slave or slaves to 
appear unveiled in the presence of her husband. Should such a 
slave, without the permission of her mistress, become the con- 
cubine of the husband and bear him a child, the child is a slave, 
unless, prior to its birth, the mother be sold or presented to the 

The white female slaves are mostly in the possession of wealthy 
Turks. The concubine-slaves in the houses of Egyptians of the 


higher and middle classes are generally Abyssinians, of a deep 
brown or bronze complexion. In their features, as well as their 
complexions, they appear an intermediate race between the ne- 
groes and white people ; but the diflFerence between them and 
either of the above-mentioned races is considerable. They them- 
selves, however, think that they differ so little from the white 
people, that they cannot be persuaded to act as servants, with 
due obedience, to their masters' wives ; and the black (or negro) 
slave-girl feels exactly in the same manner towards the Abyssinian, 
but is perfectly willing to serve the white ladies. I should here 
mention that the slaves who are termed Abyssinians are not 
from the country projDei-ly called Abyssinia, but from the neigh- 
bouring territories of the Gallas. Most of them are handsome. 
The average pi'ice of one of these girls is from ten to fifteen 
pounds sterling, if moderately handsome ; but this is only about 
lialf the sum that used to be given for one a few years ago. 
They are much esteemed by the voluptuaries of Egypt, but are 
of delicate constitution. Many of them die in this country of 
consumption. The price of a white slave-girl is usually from treble 
to tenfold that of an Abyssinian ; and the price of a black girl 
about half or two-thirds, or considerably more if well instructed in 
the art of cookery. Tlie black slaves are generally employed as 

Almost all of the slaves become converts to the faith of El- 
Islam ; but in general they are little instructed in the rites of 
their new religion, and still less in its doctrines. Most of the 
white female slaves who were in Egypt during my former visit 
to this country were Greeks ; vast numbers of that unfortunate 
people having been made prisoners by the Turkish and Egyptian 
army under Ibraheem Basha, and many of them, males and 
females, including even infants scarcely able to walk, sent to 
Egypt to be sold. Latterly, from the impoverishment of the 
higher classes in this country, the demand for white slaves has 
been small. A few, some of whom undergo a kind of preparatory 
education (being instructed in music or other accomplishments 
at Constantinople), are brought from Circassia and Georgia. 
The white slaves being often the only female companions, and 
sometimes the wives, of the Tui-kish grandees, and being gener- 


ally preferred by them before the free ladies of Egypt, hold a 
higher rank than the latter in common opinion. They are 
richly dressed, presented with valuable ornaments, indulged 
frequently with almost every luxury that can be procured, and, 
when it is not their lot to wait upon others, may in some cases 
be happy ; as lately has been proved, since the termination of the 
war in Greece, by many females of that country, captives in 
Egyptian hareems, refusing their offered liberty, which all of 
these cannot be supposed to have done from ignorance of the 
state of their parents and other relations, or the fear of exposing 
themselves to poverty. But though some of them are un- 
doubtedly happy, at least for a time, their number is compara- 
tively small : most are fated to wait upon more favoured fellow- 
prisoners, or upon ladies, or to receive the unwelcome 
caresses of a wealthy dotard, or of a man who has impaired his 
body and mind by excesses of every kind ; and, when their 
master or mistress becomes tired of them, or dies, are sold 
again (if they have not borne children), or emancipated, and 
married to some person in humble life, who can afford them but 
few of the comforts to which they have been accustomed. The 
female slaves in the houses of persons of the middle classes in 
Egypt are generally more comfortably circumstanced than those 
in the hareems of the wealthy : if concubines, they are, in most 
cases, without rivals to disturb their peace ; and if menials, their 
service is light, and they are under less restraint. Often, indeed, 
if mutual attachment subsist between her and her master, the 
situation of a concubine-slave is more fortunate than that of a 
wife ; for the latter may be cast off by her husband in a moment 
of anger by an irrevocable sentence of divorce, and reduced to a 
state of poverty, whereas a man very seldom dismisses a female 
slave without providing for her in such a manner that, if she have 
not been used to luxuries, she suffers but little, if at all, by the 
change ; this he generally does by emancipating her, giving her a 
dowry, and marrying her to some person of honest reputation, or 
by presenting her to a friend. I have already mentioned that a 
master cannot sell nor give away a slave who has borne him a 
child, if he acknowledge it to be his own, and that she is entitled 
to her freedom on his death. It often happens that such a slave, 


immediately after the birth of her child, is emancipated, and 
becomes her master's wife ; when she has become free, she can 
no longer lawfully supply the place of a wife unless he marry her. 
Many persons consider it disgraceful even to sell a female slave 
who has been long in their service. Most of the Abyssinian 
and black slave-girls ai^e abominably corrupted by the Gellabs, 
or slave-traders, of Upper Egypt and Nubia, by whom they are 
brought from their native countries. There are very few of the 
age of eight or nine years who liave not suftered brutal violence ; 
and so severely do these children, particularly the Abyssinians, 
and boys as well as girls, feel the treatment which they endure 
from the Gellabs, that many instances occur of their drowning 
themselves during the voyage down the Nile. The female slaves 
of every class are somewhat dearer than the males of the same age. 
Those who have not had the small-pox are usually sold for less 
than the others. Three days' trial is generally allowed to the pur- 
chaser, during which time the girl remains in his or some friend's 
harcera, and the women make their report to him. Snoring, grind- 
ing the teeth, or talking during sleep, are commonly considered 
sufficient reasons for returning her to the dealer. The dresses of 
the female slaves are similar to those of the Egyptian women. 

The female servants who are Egyptian girls or women are those 
to whom the lowest occupations are allotted. They generally veil 
their faces in the presence of their masters with the head- veil, draw- 
ing a part of this before the face, so that they leave only one eye 
and one hand at liberty to see and perform what they have to do. 
When a male visitor is received by the master of a house in an 
apartment of the hareem (the females of the family having been 
sent into another apartment on the occasion), he is usually, or 
often, waited upon by a female servant, who is always veiled. 

Such are the relative conditions of the various classes in the 
hareem. A short account of their usual habits and employments 
must be added. 

The wives, as well as the female slaves, are not only often 
debarred from the privilege of eating with the master of the 
family, but also required to wait upon him when he dines or sups, 
or even takes his pipe and coffee in the hareem. They frequently 
serve him as menials : fill and light his pipe, make coflfee for him, 


and prepare his food, or at least certain dainty dishes. And if I 
might judge from my own experience, I should say that most of 
them are excellent cooks ; for when a dish has been recommended 
to me because made by the wife of my host, I have generally found 
it especially good. The wives of men of the higher and middle 
classes make a great study of pleasing and fascinating their 
husbands by unremitted attentions, and by various arts. Their 
coquetry is exhibited, even in their ordinary gait when they go 
abroad, by a peculiar twisting of the body. In the presence of 
the husband they are usually under more or less restraint, and 
hence tliey are better pleased when his visits during the day are 
not very frequent or long. In his absence they often indulge in 
noisy merriment. 

The diet of the women is similar to that of the men, but more 
frugal ; and their manner of eating is the same. Many of them 
are allowed to enjoy the luxury of smoking ; for this habit is not 
considered unbecoming in a female, however high her rank — the 
odour of the finer kinds of the tobacco used in Egypt being very 
delicate. Their pipes are generally more slender than those of 
the men, and more ornamented ; and the mouth-piece is some- 
times partly composed of coral, in the place of amber. They 
generally make use of perfumes, such as musk, civet, etc., and 
often also of cosmetics, and particularly of several preparations 
which they eat or drink with the view of acquiring what they 
esteem a proper degree of plumpness : one of these preparations is 
extremely disgusting, being chiefly composed of mashed beetles. 
Many of them also have a habit of chewing frankincense and 
labdanum, which impart a perfume to the breath. The habit of 
frequent ablutions renders them cleanly in person. They spend 
but little time in the operations of the toilet ; and, after liaving 
dressed themselves in the morning, seldom change their clothes 
during the day. Their hair is generally braided in the bath, and 
not undone afterwards for several days. 

The care of their children is the primary occupation of the 
ladies of Egypt ; they are also charged with the superintendence 
of domestic affairs, but in most families the husband alone at- 
tends to the household expenses. Their leisure hours are mostly 
spent in working with the needle, particularly in embroidering 


handkerchiefs, head-veils, etc., upon a frame called " menseg,'' 
with coloured silks and gold. JNlany women, even in the houses 
of the wealthy, replenish their private purses by ornamenting 
handkerchiefs and other things in this manner, and employing a 
" dellaleh " (or female broker) to take them to the market, or to 
other hareems, for sale. The visit of one hareem to another often 
occupies nearly a whole day. Eating, smoking, drinking coffee 
and sherbet, gossiping, and displaying their finery, are sufficient 
amusements to the company. On such occasions, the master of 
the house is never allowed to enter the hareem, unless on some 
particular and uuavoiclable business ; and in this case he must 
give notice of his approach, and let the visitors have sufficient 
time to veil themselves, or to retire to an adjoining room. Being 
thus under no fear of his sudden intrusion, and being naturally of 
a lively and an unreserved disposition, they indulge in easy gaiety, 
and not unfrequently in youthful frolic. When their usual sub- 
jects of conversation are exhausted, sometimes one of the party 
entertains the rest with the recital of some wonderful or facetious 
tale. The Egyptian ladies are very seldom instructed either in 
music or dancing, but they take great delight in the performances 
of professional musicians and public dancers, and often amuse 
themselves and their guests, in the absence of better performers 
and better instruments, by beating the " darabukkeh " (which is a 
kind of drum) and the " tar " (or tambourine), though seldom in 
houses so situated that many passengers might hear the sounds 
of festivity. On the occasion of any great rejoicing among the 
women (such as takes place on account of the birth of a son, or 
the celebration of a circumcision or a wedding, etc.), " 'A'l'mehs " 
(or professional female singers) are often introduced ; but not for 
the mere amusement of the women, on common occasions, in any 
respectable family, for this would be considered indecorous. The 
" Ghazeeyehs " (or public dancing-girls), who exhibit in the streets 
with unveiled faces, are very seldom admitted into a hareem ; but 
on such occasions as those above mentioned, they often perform in 
front of the house or in the court, though by many persons even 
this is not deemed strictly proper. The " A'latees " (or male 
musicians) are never hired exclusively for the amusement of the 
women, but chiefly for that of the men : they always perform in 


the assembly of the latter. Their concert, however, is distinctly 
heard by the inmates of the hareem. 

When the women of the higher or middle classes go out to 
pay a visit, or for any other purpose, they generally ride upon 


asses. They sit astride upon a very high and broad saddle, 
which is covered with a small carpet ; and each is attended by 
a man on one or on each side. Generally all the women of a 
hareem ride out together, one beliind another. Mounted as above 


described, they present a very singular ajDpearance. Being raised 
so high above the back of the " homar 'alee " (or the " high ass " — 
for so the animal which they ride, furnished with the high saddle, 
is commonly called), they seem very insecurely seated ; but I be- 
lieve this is not really the case : the ass is well girthed and 
sure-footed, and proceeds with a slow, ambling pace, and very 
easy motion. The ladies of the highest rank, as well as those of 
the middling classes, ride asses thus equipped : they are very 
seldom seen upon mules or horses. The asses are generally hired. 
When a lady cannot procure a homar 'alee, she rides one of the 
asses equipped for the use of the men, but has a "seggadeh" (or 
prayer-carpet) placed over its saddle ; and the inferior members of 
the hareem, and females of the middle orders, often do the same. 
Ladies never walk abroad unless they have to go but a very short 
distance. They have a slow and shuffling gait, owing to the diffi- 
culty of retaining the slippers upon their feet; and in walking 
they always hold the front edges of the habarah in the manner 
represented in the engraving in page 61 of this volume. Whether 
walking or riding, they are regarded with much respect in public ; 
no well-bred man stares at them, but rather directs his eyes an- 
other way. They are never seen abroad at night, if not compelled 
to go out or return at that time by some pressing and extraor- 
dinary necessity : it is their usual rule to return from paying a 
visit before sunset. The ladies of the higher orders never go to a 
shop, but send for whatever they want ; and there are numerous 
dellalehs who have access to the hareems, and bring all kinds 
of ornaments, articles of female apparel, etc., for sale. Nor do 
these ladies, in general, visit the public bath, unless invited to 
accompany thither some of their friends \ for most of them have 
baths in their own houses. 



The domestic life of the lower orders will be the subject of the 
present chapter. In most respects it is so simple, that in com- 


parison with the life of the middle and higher classes, of which we 
have just been taking a view, it offers but little to our notice. 

The lower orders in Egypt, with the exception of a very small 
proportion, chiefly residing in the large towns, consist of Fellaheen 
(or Agriculturists). Most of those in the great towns, and a few 
in the smaller towns and some of the villages, are petty trades- 
men or artificers, or obtain their livelihood as servants, or by 
various labours. In all cases their earnings are very small — 
barely sufticient, in general, and sometimes insufiicient, to supply 
them and their families with the cheapest necessaries of life. 

Their food chiefly consists of bread (made of millet or of maize), 
milk, new cheese, eggs, small salted fish, cucumbers and melons 
and gourds of a great variety of kinds, onions and leeks, beans, 
chick-peas, lupins, the fruit of the black egg-plant, lentils, etc., 
dates (both fresh and dried), and pickles. INIost of the vegetables 
they eat in a crude state. When the maize (or Indian corn) is 
nearly ripe, many ears of it are plucked, and toasted or baked, 
and eaten thus by the peasants. Rice is too dear to be an article 
of common food for the fellaheen, and flesh-meat they very sel- 
dom taste. There is one luxury, however, which most of them 
enjoy, and that is smoking the cheap tobacco of their country, 
merely dried and broken up. It is of a pale, greenish colour 
when dried, and of a mild flavour. Though all the articles of 
food mentioned above are extremely cheap, there are many poor 
persons who often have nothing with which to season their coarse 
bread but the mixture called dukkah, described in a former 
chapter. It is surprising to observe how simple and poor is tlie 
diet of the Egyptian peasantry, and yet how robust and healthy 
most of them are, and how severe is the labour which they can 

The women of the lower orders seldom pass a life of inactivity. 
Some of them are even condemned to greater drudgery than the 
men. Their chief occupations are the preparing of the husband's 
food, fetching water (which they carry in a large vessel on the 
head), spinning cotton, linen, or woollen yarn, and making the 
fuel called "gelleh," which is composed of the dung of cattle, 
kneaded with chopped straw, and formed into round flat cakes : 
these they stick upon the walls or roofs of their houses, or upon 



the ground, to chy in the sun, and then use for heatmg their 
ovens, and for other purposes. They are in a state of much 
greater subjection to their husbands than is the case among the 
superior classes. Not always is a poor woman allowed to eat 
with her husband. When she goes out with him, she generally 
walks behind him ; and if there be anything for either of them to 
carry, it is usually borne by the wife, unless it be merely a pipe or 
a stick. Some women in the towns keep shops, and sell bread, 
vegetables, etc., and thus contribute as much as their husbands, or 
even more than the latter, to the support of their families. When 
a poor Egyptian is desirous of mari-ying, the chief object of his 
consideration is the dowry, which is usually from about twenty 
riyals (or nine shillings) to four times that amount, if consist- 
ing only of money ; and rather less if, as is the case throughout 
a great part of Egypt, it comprise certain articles of clothing. 
If he can atford to give the dowry, he seldom hesitates to marry ; 
for a little additional exertion will enable him to support a wife 
and two or three children. At the age of five or six years, the 
children become of use to tend the flocks and herds ; and at a 
more advanced age, until they marry, they assist their fathers in 
the operations of agriculture. The poor in Egypt have often to 
depend entirely upon their sons for support in their old age ; but 
many persons are deprived of these aids, and consequently re- 
duced to beggary, or almost to starvation. A few months ago, 
the Basha, during his voyage from Alexandria to this city (Cairo), 
happening to land at a village on the bank of the Nile, a poor 
man of the place ran up to him, and grasped his sleeve so tightly 
that the surrounding attendants could not make him quit his 
hold : he complained that, although he had been once in very 
comfortable circumstances, he had been reduced to utter destitu- 
tion by having his sons taken from him in his old age as recruits 
for the army. The Basha (who generally pays attention to per- 
sonal applications) relieved him, but it was by ordering that the 
richest man in the village should give him a cow. 

A young family, however, is sometimes an insupportable burden 
to poor parents. Hence it is not a very rare occurrence in Egypt 
for children to be publicly carried about for sale, by their mothers 
or by women employed by the fathers ; but this very seldom 


happens, except in cases of great distress. When a mother dies, 
leaving one or more children unweaned, and the father and other 
surviving relations are so poor as not to be able to procure a 
nurse, this singular mode of disposing of the child or children is 
often resorted to ; or sometimes an infant is laid at the door of a 
mosque, genei'ally when the congregation is assembled to perform 
the noon prayers of Friday ; and in this case it usually happens 
that some member of the congregation, on coming out of the 
mosque, and seeing the poor foundling, is moved with pity, and 
takes it home to rear in his family, not as a slave, but as an 
adopted child ; or if not, it is taken under the care of some per- 
son until an adoptive father or mother be found for it. A short 
time ago, a woman offered for sale, to the mistress of a family 
with whom a friend of mine is acquainted in this city, a child a 
few days old, which she professed to have found at the door of a 
mosque. The lady said that she would take the child, to rear it 
for the sake of God, and in the hope that her own child, an only 
one, might be spared to her as a reward for her charity, and 
handed to the woman who brought the infant ten piasters (then 
equivalent to a little more than two shillings) ; but the offered re- 
muneration was rejected. This shows that infants are sometimes 
made mere objects of traffic ; and some persons who purchase 
them may make them their slaves, and sell them again. I have 
been informed by a slave-dealer (and his assertion has been con- 
firmed to me by other persons) that young Egyptian girls are 
sometimes soid as slaves from other countries, either by a parent 
or by some other relation. The slave-dealer here alluded to said 
that several such girls had been committed to him for sale, and 
by their own consent. They were taught to expect rich dresses 
and great luxuries, and were instructed to say that they had 
been brought from their own country when only three or four years 
of age, and that they consequently were ignorant of their native 
language, and could speak only Arabic. 

It often happens, too, that a fellah, in a state of great poverty, 
is induced, by the offer of a sum of money, to place his son in a 
situation far worse than that of ordinary slavery. When a certain 
number of recruits are required from a village, the sheykh of the 
village often adopts the plan that gives him the least trouble to 


obtain them, which is, to take the sons of those persons who are 
possessed of most property. Under snch circumstances, a father, 
rather than part with his son, generally offers, to one of his poorer 
fellow-villagers, a sum equivalent to one or two pounds sterling, to 
procure a son of the latter as a substitute for his own ; and usually 
succeeds, though tlie love of oftspring prevails among the Egyp- 
tians as much as filial piet3% and most parents liave a great horror 
of parting with their children, particularly if taken for recruits, as 
is proved by the means to which they have recourse for the pre- 
vention of such an occurrence. There is now (in 1834) seldom to 
be found, in any of the villages, an able-bodied youth or young 
man who has not had one or more of his teeth broken out (that 
he may not be able to bite a cartridge), or a finger cut off, or an 
eye pulled out or blinded, to prevent his being taken for a recruit. 
Old women and others make a regular trade of going about from 
village to village, to perform these operations upon the boys ; and 
the parents themselves are sometimes the operators. But from 
what has been said before, it appears that it is not always affection 
alone that prompts the parents to have recourse to such expedi- 
ents to prevent their being depx'ived of their children. 

The Fellaheen of Egypt cannot be justly represented in a very 
favourable light with regard to their domestic and social condition 
and manners. In the worst points of view they resemble their 
Bedawee ancestors, without possessing many of the virtues of the 
inhal)itants of the desert, unless in an inferior degree ; and the 
customs which they have inherited from their forefathers often 
have a very baneful effect upon their domestic state. It has be- 
fore been mentioned that they are descended from various Arab 
tribes who have settled in Egypt at different periods, and that 
the distinction of tribes is still preserved by the inhabitants of the 
villages throughout this country. In the course of years, the de- 
scendants of each tribe of settlers have become divided into numer- 
ous branches, and these minor tribes have distinct appellations, 
which have also often been given to the village or villages or dis- 
trict which they inhabit. Those who have been longest estab- 
lished in Egypt have retained less of Bedawee manners, and have 
more infringed the purity of their race by intermarriages with 
Copt proselytes to the Muslim faith, or with the descendants of 


such persons ; lience they are often despised by the tribes more 
lately settled in this country, who frequently, in contempt, term 
the former " Fellaheen," while they arrogate to themselves the 
appellation of " Arabs " or " Bedawees." The latter, whenever 
they please, take the daughters of the former in marriage, but 
will not give their own daughters in return ; and if one of them 
be killed by a person of the inferior tribe, they kill two, three, or 
even four, in blood-revenge. The prevalence of the barbarous 
Bedawee law of blood-revenge among the inhabitants of the vil- 
lages of Egypt has been mentioned in a former cliapter : the homi- 
cide, or any person descended from him, or from his great-grand- 
father's father, is killed by any of such relations of the person 
whom he has slain ; and when the homicide happens to be of one 
tribe and the person killed of anotlier, often a petty war breaks 
forth between these two tribes, and is sometimes continued, or 
occasionally renewed, during a period of several years. The same 
is also frequently the result of a trifling injury committed by a 
member of one tribe upon a person of another. In many in- 
stances the blood-revenge is taken a century or tnore after the 
commission of the act which has occasioned it, when the feud 
for that time has lain dormant, and perhaps is remembered by 
scarcely more than one individual. Two tribes in Lower Egypt, 
which are called " Saad " and " Haram," are most notorious for 
these petty wars and feuds, and hence their names are commonly 
applied to any two persons or parties at enmity with each other 
It is astonishing that in the present day such acts (which, if 
committed in a town or city in Egypt, would be punished by the 
death of perhaps more than one of the persons concerned) should 
be allowed. Some other particulars respecting blood-revenge and 
its consequences have been stated in the chapter above alluded to. 
The avenging of blood is allowed by the Kur-an, but moderation 
and justice are enjoined in its execution ; and the petty wars 
which it so often occasions in the present age are in opposition to 
a precept of the Prophet, who said, " If two Muslims contend 
with their swords, the slayer and the slain will be in the fire [of 

The Fellaheen of Egypt resemble the Bedawees in other re- 
spects. When a Fellahah is found to have been unfaithful to her 


husband, in general lie or her brother throws her into the Kile, 
with a stone tied to her neck; or cuts her in pieces, and then 
throws her remains into the river. In most instances, also, a 
father or brother punishes in the same manner an unmarried 
daughter or sister who has been guilty of incontinence. These 
relations are considered as more disgraced than the husband by 
the crime of the woman, and are often despised if they do not 
thus punish her. 



The respect in which trade is held by the JMuslim greatly tends to 
enlarge the circle of his acquaintance with persons of different 
ranks ; and freedom of intercourse with his fellow-men is further 
and very greatly promoted by the law of the separation of the 
sexes, as it enables him to associate with others, regardless of 
difference of wealth or station, without the i"isk of occasioning 
unequal matrimonial connections. The women, like the men, 
enjoy extensive intercourse with persons of their own sex. 

The Muslims are extremely formal and regular in their social 
manners, though generally veiy easy in their demeanour and free 
in their conversation. Several of their most common usages are 
founded upon precepts of their religion, and distinguish them in 
society from all other people. Among these is their custom of 
greeting each other with the salutation of "Peace be on you!" 
to which the proper and general reply is, " On you be peace, and 
the mercy of God, and his blessings ! " This salutation is never 
to be addressed by a Muslim to a person whom he knows to be 
of another religion, nor vice versd. The giving it by one Muslim 
to another is a duty, but one that may be omitted without sin. 
The returning it is absolutely obligatory. The former is a "sun- 
neh " ordinance, and the latter "fard." Should a Muslim, how- 
ever, thus salute by mistake a person not of the same faith, the 
latter should not return it ; and the former, on discovering his 
mistake, generally revokes his salutation : so also he sometimes 
does if a Muslim refuse to return his salutation, usually say 

(440) 14 


ing, "Peace be on ?ts, and on [all] the righteous worshippers 
of God." 

The chief rules respecting salutation, as dictated by the Prophet, 
and generally observed by modern Muslims, are as follow : — The 
person riding should first salute him who is on foot ; and he who 
passes by, the person or persons who are sitting down or standing 
still ; and a small party, or one of such a party, should give the 
salutation to a large party ; and the young to the aged. As it is 
sufficient for one party to give, so is it also for one only to return, 
the salutation. It is required, too, that a Muslim, when he enters 
a house, should salute the people of that house; and that he should 
do the same when he leaves it. He should always salute first, 
and then talk. But to the above rules there are some exceptions. 
For instance, in a crowded city, it is not necessary (indeed it 
is hardly possible) to salute many of those whom one may pass, 
nor on a road where one meets numerous passengers. Yet it is 
usual for a wealthy or well-dressed person, or a venerable sheykh, 
or any person of distinction, to salute another who appears to be 
a man of rank, wealth, or learning, even in a crowded street. 
Among polite people, it is customary for him who gives or returns 
the salutation to place his right hand upon his breast at the same 
time, or to touch his lips, and then his forehead, or turban, with 
the same hand. This action is called " teymeeneh." Tlie latter 
mode of teymeeneh, which is the more respectful, is often per- 
formed to a person of supei'ior rank, not only at first, with the 
selam (or salutation of " Peace be on you ! "), but also frequently 
during a conversation, and in the latter case without the selam. 

A person of the lower orders, on approaching a superior, par- 
ticularly if the latter be a Turk, does not always give the selam, 
but only performs this teymeeneh ; and he shows his respect to a 
man of high rank by bending down his hand to the ground, and 
then putting it to his lips and forehead, without pronouncing tlie 
selam. It is a common custom, also, for a man to kiss the hand 
of a superior (generally on the back only, but sometimes on the 
back and front), and then to put it to his forehead, in order to 
pay him particular respect. But in most cases the latter does not 
allow this, and only touches the hand that is extended towards 
his ; the other person then merely puts his own hand to his lips 


and forehead. To testify abject submission, in craving pardon for 
an offence, or interceding for another person, or begging any favour 
of a superior, not unfrequently the feet are kissed instead of the 
hand. The son kisses the hand of the father, the wife that of 
her husband, and the slave, and often the free servant, that of 
the master. The slaves and servants of a grandee kiss their lord's 
sleeve, or the skirt of his clothing. 

When particular friends salute each other, they join their right 
hands, and then each kisses his own hand, or puts it to his lips 
and forehead, or raises it to his forehead only, or merely places 
it on his breast, without kissing it ; if after a long absence, and 
on some other occasions, they embrace each other, each falling 
upon the other's neck, and kissing him on the right side of the 
face or neck, and then on the left. Another mode of salutation 
is very commonly practised among the lower orders, when two 
friends or acquaintances meet after a journey : joining their 
right hands, each of them compliments the other on his safety, and 
expresses his wishes for his welfare by repeating alternately, many 
times, the words "Selamat" and "Teiyibeen" ("I congratulate 
you on your safety ; " and " I hope you are well "). In commenc- 
ing this ceremony, which is often continued for nearly a minute 
before they proceed to make any particular inquiries, they join 
their hands in the same manner as is usually pi^actised by us ; and 
at each alternation of the two expressions above mentioned, they 
change the position of the hands. In repeating the second word, 
each of the two persons turns his fingers over the thumb of the 
other; and in repeating the first word again, the former position 
is resumed. 

In polite society various other formal salutations and com- 
pliments follow the selam. To most of these there are particular 
replies, or two or more different forms of reply may be used in 
some cases ; but to return any that custom has not prescribed 
would be considered as a proof of ignorance or vulgarity. AVhen 
a person asks his friend, " How is your health ? " the latter replies, 
" Praise be to God ! " and it is only by the tone of voice in which 
he makes this answer that the inquirer can infer whether he be 
well or ill. When one greets the other with "Teiyibeen," the 
usual reply is, " God bless thee," or " God preserve thee." A 


friend or acquaintance, on meeting another whom he has not seen 
for several days, or for a longer period, generally says, after the 
selam, " Thou hast made us desolate [by thy absence from us] ; " 
and is usually answered, "May God not make [us] desolate by 
thy absence." The ordinary set comiDliments in use in Egyptian 
society are so numerous, that a dozen pages of this work would 
not suffice for the mention of those which may be heard almost 
every day. 

When a person goes to the house of another, to pay a visit, or 
for any other purpose, he never enters unawares, for this is ex- 
pressly forljidden by the Kur-an ; and particularly if he have to 
ascend to an upper apax'tment, in which case he should call out 
for permission, or announce his ajDproach, as he goes upstairs, in 
the manner which I have had occasion to describe in a former 
chapter. Should he find no person below, he generally claps his 
hands at the door, or in the court, and waits for a servant to 
come down to him, or for permission to be given him to seat him- 
self in a lower apartment, or to ascend to an upper room. On 
entering the room in which the master of the house is seated, he 
gives the selam. The master returns the salutation, and welcomes 
the visitor with courteousness and affability. To his superiors, 
and generally to his equals, he rises. Persons more or less above 
him in rank he proceeds to meet in the court, or between the 
court and the room, or at the entrance of the room, or in the 
middle of the room, or a step from the jilace Avhere he was sitting. 
But often, to equals, he merely makes a slight motion, as if about 
to rise ; and to most inferiors he remains undisturbed. To his 
superiors, and often to his equals, he yields the most honourable 
place, which is a corner of the deewan. It is that corner which is 
to the right of a person facing the upper end of the room. This 
end of the room is called the "sadr;" and the whole of the seat 
which extends along it is more honourable than those which 
extend along the sides, each of which is called "gemb." Visi- 
tors inferior in rank to the master of the house never seat 
themselves at the upper end, unless invited to do so by him ; and 
when so invited, they often decline the offered honour. His equals 
sit at their ease, cross-legged, or with one knee raised, and recline 
against the cushions. His inferiors (first, at least) often sit upon 


their heels, or take their place upon the edge of the deewan, or, 
if very much beneath him in grade, seat themselves upon the mat 
or carpet. In strict etiquette, the visitor should not at first 
suffer his hands to appear, when entering the room, or when 
seated, but should let the sleeves fall over them ; and when he has 
taken his place on the deewan, he should not stretch out his legs, 
nor even allow his feet to be seen. But these rules are not often 
attended to, excepting in the houses of the great. Various formal 
compliments and salutations are given and returned after the 
selam, and some of them, particularly the expressions of " teiyi- 
been" and "eysh hal'kum," are repeated several times during the 
same interview. 

Sometimes the visitor's own servant attends him with his pipe. 
The former takes his tobacco-purse out of his bosom, and gives it 
to the servant, who folds it uj) and returns it after having filled 
the pipe, or after the termination of the visit. Otherwise, a serv- 
ant of the host brings a pipe for the visitor, and one for his mas- 
ter. And next a cup of coffee is presented to each ; for "tobacco 
without coffee," say the Arabs, "is like meat without salt." On 
receiving the pipe and the coffee, the visitor salutes the master of 
the house with the teymeeneh, which the latter returns ; and the 
same is done on returning the cup to the servant. The master of 
the house also salutes his guest in the same manner, if the latter 
be not much beneath him in rank, on receiving and returning his 
own cup of coffee. Servants often remain in the room during the 
whole period of a visit, stationed at the lower end, in a respectful 
attitude, with their hands joined (the left within the right), and 
held before the girdle. The usual mode of summoning a servant 
or other attendant who is not present is by clapping the hands, 
striking the palm of the left hand with the fingers of the right. 
The windows being of open lattice-work, the sound is heard 
throughout the house. The subjects of conversation are generally 
the news of the day, the state of trade, the prices of provisions, 
and sometimes religion and science. Facetious stories are often 
related, and very frequently persons in the best society tell tales 
and quote proverbs of the most indecent nature. In good society 
people seldom talk of each other's hareems ; but intimate friends, 
and many persons who do not strictly observe the rules of good 


breeding, very often do so, and in a manner not always delicate. 
Genteel people inquire respecting each other's " houses," to ascer- 
tain whether their wives and families are well. Visits not un- 
frequently occupy several hours, and sometimes (especially those 
of hareems) nearly a whole day. The pipes are replenished, or 
replaced by others, as often as is necessary ; for however long a 
visitor may stay, he generally continues smoking during the whole 
time; and sometimes coffee is brought again, or sherbet. The 
manner in which the coffee and sherbet are served has been before 
described. A person receives the same compliment after drinking 
a glass of sherbet as after taking a draught of water, and replies 
to it in the same manner. 

In the houses of the rich it used to be a common custom to 
sprinkle the guest, befoi'e he rose to take his leave, with rose- 
water or orange-flower-water, and to perfume him with the smoke 
of some odoriferous substance ; but of late years this practice has 
become unfrequent. The scent-bottle, which is called "kumkum," 
is of plain or gilt silver, or fine brass, or china, or glass, and has 
a cover pierced with a small hole. The perfuming-vessel, or 
" mibkhar'ah," is generally of one or the other of the metals 
above mentioned. The receptacle for the burning charcoal is 
lined, or half-filled, with gypsum-plaster, and its cover is pierced 
with apertures for the emission of the smoke. The mibkhar'ah is 
used last. It is presented by a servant to the visitor or master, 
who wafts the smoke towards his face, beard, etc., with his right 
hand. Sometimes it is opened, to emit the smoke more freely. 
The substance most commonly used in the mibkhar'ah is aloes- 
wood, or benzoin, or cascarilla-bark. The wood is moistened be- 
fore it is placed upon the burning coals. Ambergris is also used 
for the same purpose, but very rarely, and only in the houses of 
persons of great wealth, as it is extremely costly. As soon as 
the visitor has been perfumed, he takes his leave ; but he should 
not depart without previously asking permission to do so, and 
then giving the selam, which is returned to him, and paying other 
set compliments, to which there are appropriate replies. If he be a 
person of much higher rank than the master of the house, the latter 
not only rises, but also accompanies him to the top of the stairs, or 
to the door of the room, and then commends him to the care of God. 


It is usual for a person, after paying a visit of ceremony, and 
on some other occasions, previously to his leaving the house, to 
give a small present (two or three piasters, or more, according to 
circumstances) to one, or to several, of the servants. And if his 
horse or mule or ass be waiting for him at the door, or in the 
court, one of the servants goes with him to adjust his dress when 
he mounts. This officious person pai-ticularly exjDects a present. 
When money is thus given to a man's servants, it is considered 
incumbent upon their master to do exactly the same when he re- 
turns the visit. 

Friends very often send presents to each other, merely for the 
sake of complying with common custom. When a person cele- 
brates any private festivity, he generally receives presents from 
most of his friends ; and it is a universal rule that he should 
repay the donor by a similar gift, or one of the same value, on a 
similar occasion. It is common for the receiver of a present, on 
such an event, even to express to the giver his hope that he may 
have to repay it on the occasion of a like festivity. An acknow- 
ledgment accompanied by such an allusion to the acquitment of 
the obligation imposed by the gift, Avhich would be offensive to a 
generous European, is, in this country, esteemed polite. The 
present is generally wrapped in an embroidered handkerchief, 
which is retui'ned, with a trifling pecuniary gratification, to the 
bearer. Fruit, laid upon leaves, and sweetmeats and other 
dainties, placed in a dish or on a tray, and covered with a rich 
handkerchief or napkin, are common presents. Very frequently 
a present is given by a person to a superior with a view of obtain- 
ing something more valuable in return. This is often done by a 
servant to his master ; and the gift is seldom refused, but often 
paid for immediately in money more than equivalent. It is 
generally with the expectation above mentioned that an Arab 
gives a present to a European. The custom of giving money to 
the servants of a friend, after paying him a visit, is not now so 
common as it was a few years since ; but it is still observed by 
most persons on the occasion of a visit of ceremony, and particu- 
larly on the two 'eeds, or religious festivals, and by the guests at 
private festivities. Other customs of a similar nature which are 
observed at these festivities will be described in a subsequent 


chapter. To decline the acceptance of a present generally gives 
offence, and is considered as reflecting disgrace upon the person 
who has offered it. 

There are many formal usages which are observed in Egypt, 
not merely on the occasions of ceremonious visits, or in the com- 
pany of strangers, or at the casual meetings of friends, but also in 
the ordinary intercourse of familiar acquaintances. When a man 
happens to sneeze, he says, " Praise be to God ! " Each person 
present (servants generally excepted) then says to him, " God have 
mercy on you ! " to which the former generally replies, " God 
guide us and guide you ! " or he returns the compliment in words 
of a simrlar purport. Should he yawn, he puts the back of his 
left hand to his mouth, and then says, " I seek refuge with God 
from Satan the accursed ! " but he is not complimented on this 
act, as it is one which shovild rather be avoided, for it is believed 
that the devil is in the habit of leaping into a gaping mouth. For 
a breach of good manners, it is more common to ask the pardon of 
God than that of the present company, by saying, " I beg pardon 
of God, the Great ! " When a man has just been shaved or been 
to the bath, when he has just performed the ablution preparatory 
to prayer, when he has been saying his prayers or doing any other 
meritorious act, when he has just risen from sleep, when he has 
purchased or put on any new article of dress, and on many other 
occasions, there are particular compliments to be paid to him, and 
particular replies for him to make. 

It is a rule with the Muslims to honour the I'ight hand and 
foot above the left ; to use the right hand for all honourable pur- 
poses, and the left for actions which, though necessary, are un- 
clean ; to put on and take off the right shoe before the left, and 
to put the right foot first over the threshold of a door. 

The Egyptians are extremely courteous to each other, and 
have a peculiar grace and dignity in their manner of salutation 
and their general demeanour, combined with easiness of address, 
which seem natural to them, being observable even in the peasants. 
The middle and higher classes of townspeople pride themselves 
upon their politeness and elegance of manners, and their wit and 
fluency of speech, and with some justice ; but they are not less 
free in their conversation than their less accomplished fellow- 


countrymen. Atiability is a general characteristic of the Egyptians 
of all classes. It is common for strangers, even in a shop, after 
mutual salutation, to enter into conversation with each other with 
as much freedom as if they were old acquaintances, and for one 
who has a pipe to offer it to another who has none ; and it is not 
unusual, nor is it generally considered unpolite, for persons in a 
first, casual meeting to ask each other's names, professions or 
trades, and places of abode. Lasting acquaintances are often 
formed on such occasions. In the middle and higher ranks of 
Egyptian society, it is very seldom that a man is heard to say 
anything offensive to the feelings of another in his company ; and 
the most profligate never venture to utter an expression meant 
to cast ridicule upon sincere religion. Most persons, however, in 
every class, are otherwise more or less licentious in their conver- 
sation, and extremely fond of joking. They are generally very 
lively and dramatic in their talk, but scarcely ever noisy in their 
mirth. They seldom indulge in lovid laughter, expressing their 
enjoyment of anything ludicrous by a smile or an exclamation. 



The metropolis of Egypt maintains the comparative reputation by 
which it has been distinguished for many centuries, of being the 
best school of Arabic literature and of Muslim theology and 
jurisprudence. Learning, indeed, has much declined among the 
Arabs universally, but least in Cairo ; consequently the fame of 
the professors of this city still remains unrivalled, and its great 
collegiate mosque, the Azhar, continues to attract innumerable 
students from every quarter of the Muslim world. 

The Arabic spoken by the middle and higher classes in Cairo 
is generally inferior, in point of grammatical correctness and pro- 
nunciation, to the dialects of the Bedawees of Arabia, and of the 
inhabitants of the towns in their immediate vicinity, but much 
to be preferred to those of Syria, and still more to those of the 
Western Arabs. The most remarkable peculiarities in the pro- 


nunciation of the people of Egypt are the following : — The fifth 
letter of the alphabet is pronounced by the natives of Cairo, and 
throughout the greater part of Egypt, as g in give ; while in most 
parts of Arabia, and in Syria and other countries, it receives the 
sound of j in joy : but it is worthy of remark that in a part of 
southern Arabia, where, it is said, Arabic was first spoken, the 
former sound is given to this letter. In those parts of Egypt 
where this pi'onunciation of the fifth letter prevails, the sound 
of "hemzeh" (which is produced by a sudden emission of the 
voice after a total suppression) is given to the twenty-first letter, 
excepting by the better instructed, who give to this letter its true 
sound, which I represent by "k." In other parts of Egypt, the 
pronunciation of the fifth letter is the same as that of j in joy, or 
nearly so : and the twenty-first letter is pronounced as g in give. 
By all the Egyptians, in common with most other people who 
speak the Arabic language, the third and fourth letters of the 
alphabet are pronounced alike, as our t; and the eighth and 
ninth, as our d. Of the peculiarities in the structure of the 
Egyptian dialect of Arabic, the most remarkable are, the annexa- 
tion of the letter " sheen " in negative phrases, in the same man- 
ner as the word "pas" is used in Erench ; as "ma yerdash," for 
'' ma yerda " (he will not consent) ; " ma hoosh teiyib," vulgarly, 
"m6sh teiyib," for "ma huwa teiyib" (it is not good): the 
placing the demonstrative pronoun after the word to which it 
relates ; as " el-beyt de " (this house) : and a frequent unneces- 
sary use of the diminutive form in adjectives; as "sugheiyir," for 
"sagheer" (small); "kureiyib," for " kareeb " (near). 

There is not so much difierence between the literary and 
vulgar dialects of Arabic as some European Orientalists have 
sup})osed : the latter may be described as the ancient dialect sim- 
jylijied, principally by the omission of the final vowels and other 
terminations which distinguish the different cases of nouns and 
some of the persons of verbs. Nor is there so great a difference 
between the dialects of Arabic spoken in different countries as 
some persons, who have not held intercourse with the inhabitants 
of such countries, have imagined : they resemble each other more 
than the dialects of some of the different counties in England. 
The Arabic language abounds with synonyms ; and, of a number 


of words which are synonymous, one is in common use in one 
country, and another elsewhere. Thus, the Egyptian calls milk 
"leben;" the Syrian calls it " haleeb : " the word "leben" is 
used in Syria to denote a particular preparation of sour milk. 
Again, bread is called in Egypt " 'eysh," and in other Arab 
countries " khubz ; " and many examples of a similar kind might 
be adduced. The pi'onunciation of Egypt has more softness than 
that of Syria and most other countries in which Arabic is sjooken. 

The literature of the Arabs is very comprehensive, but the 
number of their books is more remarkable than the variety. The 
relative number of the books which treat of religion and juris- 
prudence may be stated to be about one-fourth ; next in number 
are works on grammar, rhetoric, and various branches of philology ; 
the third in the scale of propoi'tion are those on history (chiefly 
that of the Arab nation), and on geography ; the fourth, poetical 
compositions. "Works on medicine, chemistry, the mathematics, 
algebra, and various other sciences, etc., are comparatively very 

There are in Cairo many large libraries, most of which are 
attached to mosques, and consist, for the greater part, of works on 
theology and jurisprudence, and philology. Several rich mei'- 
chants, and others, have also good libraries. The booksellers 
of Cairo are, I am informed, only eight in number, and their 
shops are but ill stocked. Whenever a valuable book comes 
into the possession of one of these persons, he goes round with 
it to his regular customers, and is almost sure of finding a pur- 
chaser. The leaves of the books are seldom sewed together, but 
they are usually enclosed in a cover bound with leather, and 
mostly have, also, an outer case of pasteboard and leather. Five 
sheets, or double leaves, are commonly placed together, one within 
another, composing what is called a "karras." The leaves are 
thus arranged in small parcels, without being sewed, in order that 
one book may be of use to a number of persons at the same time, 
each taking a karras. The books are laid flat, one upon another, 
and the name is written upon the front of the outer case, or upon 
the edge of the leaves. The paper is thick and glazed : it is 
mostly imported from Venice, and glazed in Egypt. The ink is 
very thick and gummy. Reeds are used instead of pens, and 


they suit the Ai-abic character much better. The Arab, in 
writing, places the paper upon his knee, or upon the pabn of his 
left hand, or upoii what is called a " misned'eh," composed of a 
dozen or more pieces of paper attached together at the four 
corners, and resembling a thin book, which he rests on his knee. 
His ink and pens are contained in a receptacle called " da way eh," 
mentioned in the first chapter of this work, together with the pen- 
knife and an ivory instrument (" mikattah ") upon which the pen 
is laid to be nibbed. He rules his paper by laying under it a 
piece of pasteboard with strings strained and glued across it 
(called a " mistar'ah "), and slightly pressing it over each string. 
Scissors are included among the apparatus of a writer ; they are 
used for cutting the paper, a torn edge being considered as un- 
becoming. In Cairo there 
are many persons who obtain 
their livelihood by copying 
manusci'ipts. The expense 
of writing a karras of twenty 
pages, quarto size, with about 
twenty-five lines to a page, 
in an ordinary hand, is about 
three piasters (or a little 
more than sevenpence of our 
money), but more if in an 
the sum if with the vowel 


elegant hand, and about double 
points, etc. 

In Egypt, and particularly in its metropolis, those youths or 
men who purpose to devote themselves to religious employments, 
or to any of the learned professions, mostly pursue a course of 
study in the great mosque El-Azhar, having previously learned 
nothing more than to read, and perhaps to write, and to recite 
the Kur-an. The Azhar, which is regarded as the principal uni- 
versity of the East, is an extensive building, surrounding a large, 
square court. On one side of this court, the side towards Mekkeh, 
is the chief place of prayer, a spacious portico. On each of the 
other three sides are smaller porticoes, divided into a number of 
apartments called " riwaks," each of which is destined for the use 
of natives of a particular country, or of a particular province of 



PnS:e 2!0. 


Egypt. This building is situated within the metropolis. It is 
not remarkable in point of architecture, and is so surrounded by 
houses that very little of it is seen externally. The students are 
called " mugawireen. " Each riwak has a library for the use of 
its members ; and from the books which it contains, and the 
lectures of the pi'ofessors, the students acquire their learning. 
The regular subjects of study are grammatical inflexion and 
syntax, rhetoric, versification, logic, theology, the exposition of 
the Kur-an, the Traditions of the Prophet, the complete science 
of jurisprudence, or rather of religious, moral, civil, and criminal 
law, which is chiefly founded on the Kur-an and the Traditions, 
together with arithmetic, as far as it is useful in matters of law. 
Lectures are also given on algebra, and on the calculations of the 
Mohammadan calendar, the times of prayer, etc. Different books 
are read by students of different sects. Most of the students, 
being natives of Cairo, are of the Shafe'ee sect ; and always the 
sheykh, or head of the mosque, is of this sect. None of the 
students pay for the instruction they receive, being mostly of the 
poorer classes. Most of those who are strangers, having riwaks 
appropriated to them, receive a daily allowance of food, provided 
from funds chiefly arising from the rents of houses bequeathed for 
their maintenance. Those of Cairo and its neighbourhood used 
to receive a similar allowance ; but this they no longer enjoy, ex- 
cepting during the month of Ramadan, for the present Basha of 
Egypt has taken possession of all the cultivable land which be- 
longed to the mosques, and thus the Azhar has lost the greater 
portion of the property which it possessed : nothing but the 
expenses of necessary repairs and the salaries of its principal 
officers are provided for by the government. The professors also 
receive no salaries. Unless they inherit property, or have rela- 
tions to maintain them, they have no regular means of subsistence 
but teaching in private houses, copying books, etc. ; , but they 
sometimes receive presents from the wealthy. Any person who 
is competent to the task may become a professor by obtaining a 
license from the sheykh of the mosque. The students mostly 
obtain their livelihood by the same means as the professors, or by 
reciting the Kur-an in private houses and at the tombs and 
other places. When sufficiently advanced in their studies, some 


of them become kadees, rauftees, imams of mosques, or school- 
masters, in their native villages or towns, or in Cairo; others 
enter into trade ; some remain all their lifetime studying in the 
Azhar, and aspire to be ranked among the higher 'Ulama. Since 
the confiscation of the lands which belonged to the Azhar, the 
number of that class of students to whom no endowed riwak is 
appropriated has very much decreased. The number of students, 
including all classes excepting the blind, is (as I am informed by 
one of the professors) about one thousand five hundred. 

There is a chapel (called " Zawiyet el-'Omyan," or the Chapel 
of the Blind), adjacent to the eastern angle of the Azhar, and one 
of the dependencies of that mosque, whei^e at present about three 
hundred poor blind men, most of whom are students, are main- 
tained from funds bequeathed for that purpose. These blind men 
often conduct themselves in a most rebellious and violent manner 5 
they are notorious for such conduct and for their fanaticism. A 
short time ago, a European traveller entering the Azhar, and liis 
presence there being buzzed about, the blind men eagerly inquired, 
"Where is the infidel?" adding, "AVe will kill him !" and groping 
about at the same time to feel and lay hold of him. They were the 
only persons who seemed desirous of showing any violence to the 
intruder. Before the accession of the present Basha, they often 
behaved in a very outrageous manner whenever they considered 
themselves oppressed, or scanted in their allowance of food ; tliey 
would, on these occasions, take a few guides, go about with staves, 
seize the turbans of passengers in the streets, and plunder the 
shops. The most celebrated of the present professors in the 
Azhar, the sheykh El-Kuweysinee, who is himself blind, being 
appointed a few years ago ►Sheykh of the Zawiyet el-'Omyan, as 
soon as he entered upon his office caused every one of the blind 
men there to be flogged ; but they rose against him, bound him, 
and inflicted upon him a flogging far more severe than that which 
they had themselves endured, and obliged him to give up his office. 

Learning was in a much more flourishing state in Cairo before 
the entrance of the Frencla army than it has been in later years= 
It suffered severely from this invasion, not through direct oppres- 
sion, but in consequence of the panic which this event occasioned 
and the troubles by which it was followed. Before that period, a 


slieykh who had studied iu the Azhar, if he had only two boys, 
sons of a modei'ately rich fellah, to educate, lived in luxury. His 
two pupils served him, cleaned his house, prepared his food, and 
though they partook of it with him, were his menial attendants at 
every time but that of eating : they followed him whenever he 
went out, carried his shoes (and often kissed them when they took 
them off) on his entering a mosque, and in every case treated him 
with the honour due to a prince. He was then distinguished by 
an ample dress and the large formal turban called a mukleh ; and 
as he passed along the street, whether on foot or mounted on an 
ass or mule, passengers often pressed towards him to implore a 
short ejaculatoiy prayer on their behalf, and he who succeeded in 
obtaining this wish believed himself especially blessed. If he 
passed by a Frank riding, the latter was obliged to dismount ; if 
he went to a butcher to procure some meat (for he found it best 
to do so, and not to send another), the butcher refused to make 
any charge, but kissed his hand, and received as an honour and 
a blessing whatever he chose to give. The condition of a man 
of this profession is now so fallen that it is with difficulty he 
can obtain a scanty subsistence unless possessed of extraordinaiy 

The Muslim 'Ulama are certainly much fettered in the pursuit 
of some of the jDaths of learning by their religion, and superstition 
sometimes decides a point which has been controverted for cen- 
turies. There is one singular means of settling a contention on 
any point of faith, science, or fact, of which I must give an in- 
stance. The following anecdote was related to rae by the Imam 
of the late Muftee (the sheykh El-Mahdee) : I wrote it in Arabic, 
at his dictation, and shall here translate his words. The sheykh 
Mohammad El-Bahaee (a learned man, whom the vulgar regard 
as a " welee," or especial favourite of heaven) was attending the 
lectures of the sheykh El-Emeer El-Kebeer (sheykh of the sect of 
the Malikees), when the professor read from the Game' es-Sagheer 
of Es-Suyootee this saying of the Prophet : " Yerily El-Hasan 
and El-Hoseyn are the two lords of the youths of the people of 
Pai'adise, in Paradise ; " and proceeded to remark, in his lecture, 
after having given a summary of the history of El-Hasan and El- 
Hoseyn, that, as to the common opinion of the people of Masr (or 


Cairo) respecting the head of El-Hoseyn, holding it to be in the 
famous Mesh-hed in this city (the mosque of the Hasaneyn), it 
was without foundation, not being established by any credible 
authority. " I was affected," says Mohammad El-Bahaee, " with 
excessive grief by this remark, since I believed what is believed 
by people of integrity and of intuition, that the noble head was in 
this Mesh-hed ; and I entertained no doul)t of it : but I would not 
oppose the sheykli El-Emeer, on account of his high I'eputation and 
extensive knowledge. The lecture terminated, and I went away 
weeping ; and when night overshaded the eai'th, I rose upon 
my feet, praying and humbly supplicating my Lord, and betaking 
myself to his most noble apostle (God favour and preserve him !), 
begging that I might see him in my sleep, and that he would 
inform me in my sleep of the truth of the matter concerning the 
place of the noble head. And I dreamed that I was walking on 
the way to visit the celebrated Mesh-hed El-Hoseynee in ]\Iasr, 
and that I approached the kubbeh [saloon of the tomb], and saw 
in it a spreading light which filled it ; and I entered its door, and 
found a shereef standing by the door; and I saluted him, and 
he returned my salutation, and said to me, ' Salute the Apostle 
of God (God favour and preserve him !).' And I looked towards 
the kibleh [niche marking the direction of Mekkeh], and saw 
the Prophet (God favour and preserve him !) sitting upon a throne, 
and a man standing on his right, and another man standing on 
his left ; and I raised my voice, saying, ' Blessing and peace be on 
thee, O Apostle of God ! ' And I repeated this several times, 
weeping as I did it ; and I heard the Apostle of God (God favour 
and preserve him !) say to me, ' Approach, O my son ! O Mo- 
hammad ! ' Then the first man took me, and conducted me 
towards the Prophet (God fa^'our and preserve him !), and placed 
me before his noble hands ; and I saluted him, and he returned 
my salutation, and said to me, ' God recompense thee for thy visit 
to the head of El-Hoseyn, my son.' I said, ' O Apostle of God, is 
the head of El-Hoseyn here?' He answered, 'Yes, it is here.' 
And I became cheerful ; grief fled from me, and my heart was 
strengthened. Then I said, ' O Apostle of God, I will relate to 
thee what my sheykh and my preceptor El-Emeer hath affirmed 
in his lecture.' And I repeated to him the words of the sheykh j 


and he (God favour and preserve liira !) looked down, and tlien 
raised his head, and said, 'The copyists are excused.' I awoke 
from my sleep joyful and happy ; but I found that much remained 
of the night, and I became impatient of its length, longing for the 
morn to shine, that I might go to the sheykh and relate to him 
the dream, in the hope that he might believe me. When the 
morn arose, I prayed, and went to the house of the sheykh, but 
found the door shut. I knocked it violently, and the porter came 
in alarm, asking, ' Who is that % ' but when he knew me — for he 
had known my abode from the sheykh — he opened the door to 
me. If it had been another person, he would have beaten him. 
I entered the court of the house, and began to call out, ' INFy 
master! my master!' The sheykh awoke, and asked, 'Who is 
that % ' I answered, ' It is I, thy pupil, Mohammad El-Bahaee ! ' 
The sheykh was in w^onder at my coming at this time, and ex- 
claimed, ' God's perfection ! What is this 1 What is the news 1 ' 
thinking that some great event had happened among the people. 
He then said to me, 'Wait while I pray.' I did not sit down 
until the sheykh came down to the hall, when he said to me, 
'Come up;' and I went up, and neither saluted him, nor kissed 
his hand, from the effect of the dream which I had seen, but said, 
' The head of El-Hoseyn is in this well-known Mesh-hed in Masr ; 
there is no doubt of it.' The sheykh said, ' What proof have you 
of that? If it be a true record, adduce it.' I said, ' From a book, 
I have none.' The sheykh said, 'Hast thou seen a vision?' I 
replied, ' Yes ; ' and I related it to him, and informed him that the 
Apostle of God (God favour and preserve him !) had acquainted 
me that the man who was standing by the door was 'Alee, the son 
of Aboo-Talib, and that he wdio was on the right of the Pro])het, 
by the throne, was Aboo-Bekr, and that he on his left was 'Omar, 
the son of El-Khattab ; and that they had come to visit the head 
of the Imam El-Hoseyn. The sheykh rose, and took me by the 
hand, and said, ' Let us go and visit the Mesh-hed El-Hoseynee ; ' 
and when he entered the kubbeh, he said, ' Peace be on thee, O 
son of the daughter of the Apostle of God ! I believe that the 
noble head is here, by reason of the vision whicli this person has 
seen ; for the vision of the Pi'ophet is true, since he hath said, 
"Whoso seeth me in his sleep seeth me truly, for Satan cannot 

(440) 1 5 


assuiTie the similitude of my form." ' Then the sheykh said to me, 
' Thou hast believed, and I have believed ; for these lights are not 
illusive.'" The above-quoted tradition of the Prophet has often 
occasioned other points of dispute to be settled in the same manner, 
by a dream ; and when the dreamer is a person of reputation, no 
one ventures to contend against him. 

The remark made at the commencement of this chapter implies 
that there are, in the present day, many learned men in the 
metropolis of Egypt ; and there are some also in other towns of 
this country. One of the most celebi'ated of the modern 'Ulama 
of Cairo is the slaeykh Hasan El-'Attar, who is the present sheykh 
of the Azhar. In theology and jurisprudence he is not so deeply 
versed as some of his contemporai'ies, particularly the sheykh El- 
Kuweysinee, whom I have before mentioned, but he is eminently 
accomplished in polite literature. He is the author of an " Insha," 
or an excellent collection of Arabic letters on various subjects, 
which are intended as models of epistolary style. This work has 
been printed at Boolak. In mentioning its author, I fulfil a 
promise which he condescended to ask of me : supjDOsing that I 
should publish, in my own country, some account of the people 
of Cairo, he desired me to state that I was acquainted with him, 
and to give my opinion of his acquirements. The sheykh Mo- 
hammad Shihab is also deservedly celebrated as an accomplished 
Arabic scholar and elegant poet. His affability and wit attract 
to his house, every evening, a few friends, whose pleasures, on 
tliese occasions, I sometimes participate. We are received in a 
small but very comfortable room. Each of us takes his own pipe, 
and coffee alone is presented to us : the sheykh's conversation is 
the most delightful banquet that he can offer u.s. Tliere are also 
several other persons in Cairo who enjoy considerable reputation 
as philologists and poets. The sheykh 'Abd-Er-Rahraan El-Ga- 
bartee, another modern author, and a native of Cairo, particularly 
deserves to be mentioned, as having written a very excellent his- 
tory of the events which have taken place in Egypt since the 
commencement of the twelfth century of the Flight. He died in 
182.5, or 1826, soon after my arrival in Cairo. His family 
was of El-Gabart (also called Ez-Zeyla'), a province of Abyssinia, 
bordering on the ocean. The Gabartees (or natives of that coun- 


try) are jNIuslims. They have a riwak (or apartment appropriated 
to such of them as wish to study) in the Azhar ; and there is a 
similar provision for them at Mekkeh, and also at El-Medeeneh. 

The works of the ancient Arab poets were but imperfectly 
understood (in consequence of many words contained in them 
having become obsolete) between two and three centuries, only, 
after the time of Mohammad. It must not, therefore, be inferred, 
from what has been said in the preceding paragraph, that persons 
able to explain the most difficult passages of the early Arab 
authors are now to be found in Cairo or elsewhere. There are, 
however, many in Egypt who are deeply versed in Arabic gram- 
mar, rhetoric, and polite literature, though the sciences mostly 
pursued in this country are theology and jurisprudence. Few of 
the 'Ulama of Egypt are well acquainted with the history of their 
own nation, much less with that of other people. 

The literary acquirements of those who do not belong to the 
classes who make literature their profession are of a very inferior 
kind. Many of the wealthy tradespeople are well instructed in 
the arts of reading and writing, but few of them devote much 
time to the pursuit of literature. Those who have committed to 
memory the whole, or considerable portions, of the Kur-an, and 
can recite two or three celebrated " kaseedehs " (or short poems), 
or introduce, now and then, an apposite quotation in conversation, 
are considered accomplished persons. Many of the tradesmen of 
Cairo can neither read nor write, or can only read, and are obliged 
to have recourse to a friend to write their accounts, letters, etc. ; 
but these persons generally cast accounts, and make intricate 
calculations, mentally, with surprising rapidity and correctness. 

It is a very prevalent notion among the Christians of Europe 
that the Muslims are enemies to almost every branch of know- 
ledge. This is an erroneous idea ; but it is true that their studies 
in the present age are confined within very narrow limits. Very 
few of them study medicine, chemistry (for our first knowledge 
of which we are indebted to the Arabs), the mathematics, or 
astronomy. The Egyptian medical and surgical practitioners are 
mostly barbers, miserably ignorant of the sciences which they 
profess, and unskilful in their practice, partly in consequence of 
their being prohibited by their religion from availing themselves 


of the advantage of dissecting human bodies. But a number of 
young men, natives of Egypt, are now receiving European in- 
struction in medicine, anatomy, surgery, and other sciences for 
the service of the Government. Many of the Egyptians, in ill- 
ness, neglect medical aid, placing their whole reliance on Provi- 
dence or charms. Alchemy is more studied in this country than 
pure chemistry, and astrology more than astronomy. The astrolabe 
and quadi'ant are almost the only astronomical instruments used 
in Egypt. Telescopes are rarely seen here ; and the magnetic 
needle is seldom employed, excepting to discover the direction of 
Mekkeh, for which purpose convenient little compasses (called 
" kibleeyehs "), showing the direction of the kibleh at various 
large towns in different countries, are constructed, mostly at 
Dimyat : many of these have a dial, which shows the time of 
noon, and also that of the 'asr, at different places and diffei'ent 
seasons. Those j^ersons in Egypt who profess to have consider- 
able knowledge of astronomy are generally blind to the true 
principles of the science : to say that the earth revolves round the 
sun, they consider absolute heresy. Pure astronomy they make 
chiefly subservient to their computations of the calendar. 

The Muslim year consists of twelve lunar months, the names 
of which are pronounced by the Egyptians in the following 
manner : — 

1. Moharram, 

2. Safar. 

3. Rabeea el-Owwal. 

4. Rabeea et-Tanee. 

5. Gumad el-Owwal, or Guniada-1-Oola. 

6. Gumad et-Tanee, or Gumada-t-Taniyeh. 

7. Regeb. 

8. Shaaban. 

9. Ramadan. 

10. Showwal. 

11. Zu-1-Kaadeh, or El-Kaadeh. 

12. Zu-1-Heggeh, or 

Each of these months retrogrades through all the different 
seasons of the solar year in the period of about thirty -three years 
and a half ; consequently they are only used for fixing the anni- 




Babeh \\ 



Hatoor ti 



KjyaLk (vulg. 






Arosheer ti 



Barmahat w 



Barmoodeh n 



Beshens u 
Ba-ooneh n 



Ebeeb n 



Misra m 


versaries of most religious festivals, and for the dates of historical 
events, letters, etc., and not in matters relating to astronomy or 
the seasons. In the latter cases, the Coptic months are still in 
general use. 

With their modern names, I give the corresponding periods of 
our calendar : — 

1. Toot commences on the 10th or 11th of September. 

10th or nth of October. 

9th or 10th of Novembei". 

9th or 10th of December. 

8th or 9th of January. 

7 th or 8 til of Februaiy. 

9th of March. 

8th of April. 

8th of May. 

7th of June. 

7 th of July. 

Gth of August. 

The Eiyam en-Nesee (intercalary days), five or six days, com- 
plete the year. 

These months, it will be observed, are of thirty days each. 
Five intercalary days are added at the end of three successive 
years, and six at the end of the fourth yeai'. The Coptic leap- 
year immediately precedes ours ; therefore the Coptic year begins 
on the 11th of September only when it is the next after their 
leap-year, or when our next ensuing year is a leap-year ; and, con- 
sequently, after the following February the corresponding days 
of the Coptic and our months will be the same as in other years. 
The Copts begin their reckoning from the era of Diocletian, 
A.D. 284. 

In Egypt, and other Muslim countries, fi'om sunset to sunset 
is reckoned as the civil day ; the night being classed with the day 
which folloios it — thus the night before Friday is called the night 
of Friday. Sunset is twelve o'clock ; an hour after sunset, one 
o'clock ; two hours, two o'clock ; and so on to twelve. After 
twelve o'clock in the morning the hours are again named one, 
two, three, and so on. The Egyptians wind up and (if necessary) 
set their watches at sunset, or rather a few minutes after ; gener 


ally %yhen they hear the call to evening-prayer. Their watches, 
according to this system of reckoning from sunset, to be always 
quite correct, should be set every evening, as the days vary in 

The following table shows the times of Muslim prayer, with 
the apparent European time of sunset, in and near the latitude of 
Cairo, at the commencement of each zodiacal month : — 






Mo. T. 

Eur. T. 

Mo. T. 

Mo. T. 

Mo. T. 

Mo. T. 

h. m. 

h. m. 

h. m. 

li. ni. 

h. m. 

h. m. 

June 21 


7 4 

1 34 

8 6 

4 56 

8 31 

July 22 

May 21 


6 53 

1 30 

8 30 

5 7 

8 43 

Aug. 23 

April 20 


6 31 

1 22 

9 24 

5 29 

9 4 

Sept. 23 

March 20 


6 4 

1 18 

10 24 

5 56 

9 24 

Oct. 23 

Feb. 18 


5 37 

1 18 

11 18 

6 23 

9 35 

Nor. 22 

Jan. 20 


5 15 

1 22 

11 59 

6 45 

9 41 

Dec. 21 


5 4 

1 24 

12 15 

6 56 

9 43 

A pocket almanac is annually printed at the government-press 
at Boolak. It comprises the period of a solar year, commencing 
and terminating with the vernal equinox ; and gives, for every 
day, the day of the week, and of the Mohammadan, Coptic, 
Syrian, and European months, together with the sun's place in 
the zodiac, and the time of sunrise, noon, and the 'asr. It is 
prefaced with a summary of the principal eras and feast-days 
of the Muslims, Copts, and others, and remarks and notices re- 
lating to the seasons. Subjoined to it is a calendar containing 
physical, agricultural, and other notices for every day in the year, 
mentioning eclijDses, etc., and comprising much matter suited to 
the superstitions of the people. It is the work of Yahya Efendee, 
originally a Christian priest of Syria, but now a Muslim. 

Of geography, the Egyptians in general, and, with very few 
exceptions, the best instructed among them, have scarcely any 
knowledge. Having no good maps, they are almost wholly igno- 
rant of the relative situations of the several great countries of 
Europe. Some few of the learned venture to assert that the 
earth is a globe, but they are opposed by a great majority of the 
'Ulama. The common opinion of all classes of Muslims is, that 
our earth is an almost plane expanse, surrounded by the ocean, 
which, they say, is encompassed by a chain of mountains called 


" Kaf." They believe it to be the uppermost of seven earths ; 
and, in like manner, they believe that there are seven heavens, 
one above another. 

Such being the state of science among the modern Egyptians, 
the reader will not be surprised at tinding the present chapter 
followed by a long account of their superstitions ; a knowledge 
of which is necessary to enable him to understand their character, 
and to make due allowances for many of its faults. We may 
hope for, and indeed reasonably expect, a very great improve- 
ment in the intellectual and moral state of this people, in con- 
sequence of the introduction of European sciences, by which their 
present ruler has, in some degree, made amends for his oppressive 
sway ; but it is not probable that this hope will be soon realized 
to any considerable extent, i'' 



The Arabs are a very superstitious people, and none of them are 
more so than those of Egypt. Many of their superstitions form 
a part of their religion, being sanctioned by the Kur-an ; and the 
most prominent of these is the belief in " Ginn " or Genii — in the 
singular, " Gmnee " 

The ginn are said to be of pre- Adamite origin, and, in their 
general properties, an intermediate class of beings between angels 
and men, but inferior in dignity to both, created of fire, and cap- 
able of assuming the forms and material fabric of men, brutes, 
and monsters, and of becoming invisible at pleasure. They eat 
and drink, propagate their species (like, or in conjunction with, 
human beings), and are subject to death, though they genei-ally 
live many centuries. Their principal abode is in the chain of 
mountains called "Kaf," which are believed to encompass the 
whole earth, as mentioned near the close of the preceding cha^^ter. 
Some are believers in El-Islam ; others are infidels. The latter 
are what are also called " Sheytans," or devils, of whom Iblees 
(that is, Satan, or the devil) is the chief ; for it is the general and 


best-supported opinion that he (like the other devils) is a ginnee, 
as he was ci'eated of fire ; whereas the angels are created of light, 
and are impeccable. Of both the classes of genii, good and evil, 
the Arabs stand in great awe, and for the former thej entertain 
a high degree of respect. It is a common custom of this people, 
on pouring water, etc., on the ground, to exclaim or mutter, 
" Destoor " — that is, to ask the permission or crave the pardon of 
any ginnee that may chance to be there ; for the ginn are supposed 
to pervade the solid matter of the earth, as well as the firmament, 
where, approaching the confines of the lowest heaven, they often 
listen to the conversation of the angels respecting future things, 
thus enabling themselves to assist diviners and magicians. They are 
also believed to inhabit rivers, ruined houses, w^ells, baths, ovens, 
and even the latrlna : hence, persons, when they enter the latter 
place, and when they let down a bucket into a well, or light a fire, 
and on other occasions, say, " Permission ! " or " Permission, ye 
blessed ! " — which words, in the case of entering the latrina, they 
sometimes preface with a jarayer for God's protection against all 
evil spirits ; but in doing this, some persons are careful not to 
mention the name of God after they have entered (deeming it 
improper in such a place), and only say, " I seek refuge with Thee 
from the male and female devils." These customs present a com- 
mentary on the story in "The Thousand and One Nights," in 
which a merchant is described as having killed a ginnee by throw- 
ing aside the stone of a date which he had just eaten. In the 
same story, and in others of the same collection, a ginnee is repre- 
sented as approaching in a whirlwind of sand or dust ; and it is 
the general belief of the Arabs of Egypt that the " zoba'ah," or 
whirlwind which raises the sand or dust in the form of a pillar of 
prodigious height, and Avhich is so often seen sweeping across the 
fields and deserts of this country, is caused by the flight of one of 
these beings ; or, in other words, that the ginnee " rides in the 
whirlwind." A charm is usually uttered by the Egyptians to 
avert the zoba'ah, when it seems to be approaching them : some 
of them exclaim, " Iron, thou unlucky ! " — as genii are supposed 
to have a great dread of that metal ; others endeavour to drive 
away the monster by exclaiming, " God is most great ! " What 
we call a "falling star" (and which the Arabs term "shihab") is 


commonly believed to be a dart thrown by God at an e\il ginnee ; 
and the Egyptians, when they see it, exclaim, " May God transfix 
the enemy of the faith ! " The evil ginnees are commonly termed 
" 'Efreets ; " and one of this class is mentioned in the Kur-an in 
these words, "An 'efreet of the ginn answered" (ch. xxvii., ver. 
39), which words Sale translates, "A terrible genius answered." 
They are generally believed to differ from the other ginn in being 
very powerful and always malicious, but to be, in other respects, 
of a similar nature. An evil ginnee of the most powerful class is 
called a " Marid." 

Connected with the history of the ginn are many fables not 
acknowledged by the Kur-an, and therefore not credited by the 
more sober Muslims, but only by the less instructed. All agree 
that the ginn were created before mankind ; but some distinguish 
another class of pre- Adamite beings of a similar nature. It is 
commonly believed that the earth was inhabited, before the time 
of Adam, by a race of beings differing from ourselves in form, 
and much more powerful; and that forty (or, according to 
some, seventy-two) pre-Adamite kings, each of whom bore the 
name of Suleyman (or Solomon), successively governed this people. 
The last of these Suleymans was named Gann Ibn-Gann ; and 
from him, some think, the ginn (who are also called "gann") 
derive their name. Hence some believe the ginn to be the same 
with the pre-Adamite race here mentioned ; but others assert that 
they (the ginn) were a distinct class of beings, and brought into 
subjection by the other race. 

Ginnees are believed often to assume, or perpetually to wear, 
the shapes of cats, dogs, and other brute animals. The sheykh 
Khaleel El-Medabighee, one of the most celebrated of the 'Ulama 
of Egypt, and author of several works on various sciences, who 
died, at a very advanced age, during the period of my former visit 
to this countiy, used to relate the following anecdote. He had, 
he said, a favourite black cat, which always slept at the foot of 
his musquito-curtain. Once, at midnight, he heard a knocking at 
the door of his house ; and his cat went and opened the hanging 
shutter of his window, and called, "Who is there?" A voice 
replied, " I am such a one " (mentioning a strange name), " the 
ginnee; open the door." "The lock," said the sheykh's cat, "has 


had the name [of God] pronounced upon it." "Then throw me 
down," said the other, " two cakes of bread." " The bread-basket," 
answered the cat at the window, " has had the name pronounced 
upon it." "Well," said the stranger, "at least give me a draught 
of water," But he was answered that the water-jar had been 
secured in the same manner ; and asked what he was to do, see- 
ing that he was likely to die of hunger and thirst. The sheykh's 
cat told him to go to the door of the next house ; and went there 
also himself, and opened the door, and soon after returned. Next 
morning the sheykh deviated from a habit which he had constantly 
observed : he gave to the cat half of the fateex-eh upon which he 
breakfasted, instead of a little morsel, which he was wont to give ; 
and afterwards said, " my cat, thou knowest that I am a poor 
man; bring me, then, a little gold." Upon which words the cat 
immediately disappeared, and he saw it no more. — Ridiculous as 
stories of this kind really are, it is impossible, without relating one 
or more, to convey a just notion of the opinions of the people 
whom I am attempting to describe. 

It is commonly affirmed that malicious or disturbed genii very 
often station themselves on the roofs or at the windows of houses 
in Cairo, and other towns of Egypt, and throw bricks and stones 
down into the streets and courts. A few days ago I was told of 
a case of this kind, which had alarmed the people in the main 
street of the metropolis for a whole week — many bricks having 
been thrown down from some of the houses every day during this 
period, but nobody killed or wounded. I went to the scene of 
these pretended pranks of the genii to witness them, and to make 
inquiries on the subject ; but on my arrival there I was told that 
the " regm " (that is, the throwing) had ceased. I found no one 
who denied the throwing down of the bricks, or doubted that it 
was the work of genii ; and the general remark on mentioning 
the subject was, " God preserve us from their evil doings ! " 

One of my friends observed to me, on this occasion, that he 
had met with some Englishmen who disbelieved in the existence 
of genii ; but he concluded that they had never witnessed a public 
performance, though common in their country, of which he had 
since heard, called " kumedyeh " (or comedy) ; by which term he 
meant to include all theatrical performances. Addressing one of 


his countrymen, and appealing to me for the confirmation of his 
words, he then said : '" An Algerine a short time ago gave me an 
account of a spectacle of this kind which he had seen in London." 
Here his countryman interrupted him by asking, " Is not England 
in London % or is London a town in England ? " My friend, 
with diffidence, and looking to me, answered that London was 
the metropolis of England, and then resumed the subject of the 
theatre. " The house," said he, " in which the spectacle was ex- 
hibited cannot be described. It was of a round form, with many 
benches on the floor, and closets all round, in rows, one above 
another, in whicli people of the higher classes sat ; and there was 
a large square aperture, closed with a curtain. When the house 
was full of people, who paid large sums of money to be admitted, 
it suddenly became very dark. It was night, and the house had 
been lighted up with a great many lamps ; but these became 
almost entirely extinguished, all at the same time, without being 
touched by anybody. Then the great curtain was drawn up. 
They heard the roaring of the sea and wind, and indistinctly per- 
ceived through the gloom the waves rising and foaming, and 
lashing the shore. Presently a tremendous peal of thunder was 
heard, after a flash of lightning had clearly shown to the sjiecta- 
tors the agitated sea ; and then there fell a heavy shower of real 
rain. Soon after the day broke, the sea became nioi'e plainly 
visible, and two ships were seen in the distance. They approached 
and fought each other, firing their cannons ; and a variety of other 
extraordinary scenes were afterwards exhibited. Now it is evi- 
dent," added my friend, " that such wonders must have been the 
works of genii, or at least performed by their assistance." He 
could not be convinced of his error by my explanations of these 

During the month of Ramadan the genii, it is said, are confined 
in pi-ison ; and hence, on the eve of the festival which follows that 
month, some of the women of Egypt, with the view of preventing 
these objects of dread from entering their houses, sprinkle salt 
upon the floors of the apartments, saying as they do it, " In the 
name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful." 

A curious relic of ancient Egyptian superstition must here be 
mentioned. It is believed that each quarter in Cairo has its 


peculiar guardian-genius, or Agatliodajmon. which has the form of 
a sei'pent. 

The ancient tombs of Egypt, and the dark recesses of the 
temples, are commonly believed, by the people of this country, to 
be inhabited by 'efreets. I found it impossible to persuade one 
of my servants to enter the Great Pyramid with me from his 
having this idea. Many of the Arabs ascribe the erection of the 
Pyramids, and all the most stupendous remains of antiquity in 
Egypt, to Gann Ibn-Gann and his servants, the ginn, conceiving 
it impossible that they could have been raised by human hands. 

The term 'afreet is commonly applied rather to an evil giunee 
than any other being, but the ghosts of dead persons are also 
called by this name ; and many absurd stories are related of 
them, and great are the fears which they inspire. There are 
some persons, however, who hold them in no degree of dread. I 
had once a humorous cook who was somewhat addicted to the 
intoxicating hasheesh. Soon after he had entered my service I 
heard him one evening muttering and exclaiming on the stairs, 
as if in surprise at some event, and then politely saying, "But 
why are you sitting here in the draught ? Do me the favour to 
come up into the kitchen and amuse me with your conversation a 
little." The civil address, not being answered, was repeated and 
varied sevei'al times, till I called out to the man, and asked 
him to whom he was speaking. "The 'efreet of a Turkish 
soldier," he replied, "is sitting on the stairs, smoking his pipe, 
and refuses to move. He came up from the well below ; pray step 
and see him." On my going to the stairs and telling the servant 
that I could see nothing, he only remarked that it was because I 
had a clear conscience. He was told afterwards that the house 
had long been haunted ; but asserted that he had not been pre- 
viously informed of the supposed cause, which was the fact of a 
Turkish soldier having been murdered there. ]\Iy cook pi'ofessed 
to see this 'efreet frequently after. 

The existence of "Ghools" likewise obtains almost universal 
credence among the modern Egyptians, in common with several 
other Eastern nations. These beings are generally believed to 
be a class of evil ginnees, and are said to appear in the forms of 
various animals and in many monstrous shapes, to haunt burial- 


grounds and other sequestered spots, to feed upon dead bodies, 
and to kill and devour every human creature Avho has the misfor- 
tune to fall in their way. Hence the term " ghool " is applied in 
general to any cannibal. 

That fancies such as these should exist in the minds of a people 
so ignorant as those who are the subject of these pages cannot 
reasonably excite our surprise. But the Egyptians pay a super- 
stitious reverence not to imaginaiy beings alone ; they extend it 
to certain individuals of their own species, and often to those who 
are justly the least entitled to such respect. An idiot or a fool is 
vulgarly regarded by them as a being whose mind is in heaven, 
while his grosser part mingles among ordinary mortals ; conse- 
quently he is considered an especial favourite of heaven. What- 
ever enormities a reputed saint may commit (and there are many 
who are constantly infringing precepts of their religion), such acts 
do not affect his fame for sanctity ; for they are considered as the 
results of the abstraction of his mind from worldly things — his 
soul, or reasoning faculties, being wholly absorbed in devotion — 
so that his passions are left without control. Lunatics who are 
dangerous to society are kept in confinement, but those who are 
harmless are generally regarded as saints. Most of the rejDuted 
saints of Egypt are either lunatics, or idiots, or impostors. Some 
of them go about perfectly naked, and are so highly venerated 
that the women, instead of avoiding them, sometimes suffer these 
wretches to take any liberty with them in the public street, and, 
by the lower orders, are not considered as disgraced by such 
actions, which, however, are of very rare occurrence. Others are 
seen clad in a cloak or long coat composed of patches of various 
coloured cloths, which is called a " dilk," adorned with numerous 
strings of beads, wearing a ragged turban, and bearing a staff with 
shi'eds of cloth of various colours attached to the top. Some of 
them eat straw, or a mixture of chopped straw and broken glass, 
and attract observation by a variety of absurd actions. During 
my first visit to this country I often met, in the streets of Cairo, a 
deformed man, almost naked, with long matted hair, and riding 
upon an ass led by another man. On these occasions he always 
stopped his beast directly before me, so as to intercept my way, 
recited the Fat'hah (or opening chapter of the Kur-an), and then 


held out his hand for an ahns. The first time that he thus crossed 
me I endeavoured to avoid him ; but a person passing by re- 
monstrated with me, observing that the man before me was a 
saint, and that I ought to resjDect liim, and comply with his 
demand, lest some misfortune should befall me. Men of this 
class are supported by alms, which they often receive without ask- 
ing for them. A reputed saint is commonly called "sheykh," 
"murabit," or "Avelee." If affected with lunacy or idiocy, or of 
weak intellect, he is also and more properly termed " megzoob," 
or "mesloob." " Welee" is an appellation correctly given only to 
an eminent and very devout saint, and signifies " a favourite of 
heaven ; " but it is so commonly applied to real or pretended 
idiots, that some wit has given it a new interpretation, as equiv- 
alent to " beleed," which means "a fool" or "simpleton," re- 
marking that these two terms are equivalent both in sense and in 
the numerical value of the letters composing them : for "welee" 
is written with the letters "wii'w," "lam," and "y6," of which the 
numerical values are 6, 30, and 10, or, together, 46 ; and "beleed " 
is written with "be," "lam," "ye," and "dal," which are 2, 30, 
10, and 4, or, added together, 46. A simpleton is often jestingly 
called a welee. 

The Muslims of Egypt, in common with those of other coun- 
tries, entertain very curious superstitions respecting the persons 
whom they call welees. I have often endeavoured to obtain in- 
formation on the most mysterious of these superstitions, and have 
generally been answered, " You are meddling with the matters of 
the 'tai^eekah,' " or the religious course of the darweeshes ; but I 
have been freely acquainted with general opinions on these sub- 
jects, and such are perhaps all that may be required to be stated 
in a work like the present. I shall, however, also relate what I 
have been told by learned persons and by darweeshes in elucida- 
tion of the popular belief. 

In the first place, if a person were to express a doubt as to the 
existence of true welees, he would be branded with infidelity, 
and the following passage of the Kur-an would be adduced to 
condemn him : " Yerily, on the favourites of God no fear shall 
come, nor shall they grieve." This is considered as sufficient to 
prove that there is a class of persons distinguished above ordinary 



human beings. The question tlien suggests itself, " Who, or of 
what description, are these persons?" and we are answered, 
" They are persons wliolly devoted to God, and possessed of 
extraordinary faith ; and, according to their degree of faith, en- 
dowed with the power of performing miracles." 

The most holy of the welees is termed the Kutb ; or, according 
to some persons, there are two who have this title ; and again, 
according to others, four. The term " kutb " signifies an axis, 
and lience is applied to a welee who rules over others ; they de- 
pending upon him, and being subservient to him. For the same 
reason it is applied to temporal rulers, or any person of high 
authority. The opinion that there are four kutbs, I am told, is a 
vulgar error, originating from the frequent mention of "the four 
kutbs," by which expression are meant the founders of the four 
most celebrated orders of darweeshes (the Rifa'eeyeh, Kadireeyeh, 
Ahmedeeyeh, and Banihimeh), each of whom is believed to have 
been the kutb of his time. I have also generally been told that 
the opinion of there being two kutbs is a vulgar error, founded 
upon two names, " Kutb el-Hakcekah " (or the Kutb of Truth), 
and " Kutb el-Ghos " (or the Kutb of Invocation for help), which 
properly belong to but one person. The term "el -Kutb el- 
IMutawellee " is applied, by those who believe in but one kutb, to 
the one ruling at the present time ; and by those who believe in 
two, to the acting kutb. The kutb who exercises a superintend- 
ence over all other welees (whether or not there be another kutb 
— for if there be, he is inferior to the former) has, under his 
authority, welees of different ranks to perform different offices — 
"ISTakeebs," "Negeebs," " Bedeels," etc. — who are known only to 
each other, and perhaps to the rest of the welees, as holding such 

The Kutb, it is said, is often seen, but not known as such ; 
and the same is said of all who hold authority under him. Ho 
always has a humble demeanour and mean dress ; and mildly 
reproves those whom he finds acting impiously, particularly such 
as have a false reputation for sanctity. -Though he is unknown 
to the world, his favourite stations are well known ; yet at these 
places he is seldom visible. It is asserted that he is almost con- 
stantly seated at Mekkeh, on the roof of the Kaabeh ; and 


thougli never seen there, is ahvays heard at midnight to call 
twice, " O thou most merciful of those who show mercy ! " 
which cry is then repeated from the mad'nehs of the temple by 
the mueddins. But a respectable pilgrim, whom I have just 
questioned upon this matter, has confessed to me that he him- 
self has Avitnessed that this cry is made by a regular minister of 
the mosque ; yet that few pilgrims know this. He believes, how- 
ever, that the roof of the Kaabeh is the chief " markaz " (or 
station) of the Kutb. Another favourite station of this revered 
and unknown person is the gate of Cairo called Bab Zuweyleh, 
which is at the southei'n extremity of that part of the metropolis 
which constituted the old city, though now in the heart of the 
town ; for the capital has greatly increased towards the south, as 
it has also towards the west. From its being a supposed station 
of this mysterious being, the Bab Zuweyleh is commonly called 
"El-Mutawellee." One leaf of its great wooden door (which is 
never shut), turned back against the eastern side of the interior 
of the gateway, conceals a small vacant space which is said to be 
the place of the Kutb. Many persons on passing by it recite the 
Fat'hah ; and some give alms to a beggar who is generally seated 
there, and who is regarded by the vulgar as one of the servants 
of the Kutb. Numbers of persons afflicted with headache drive 
a nail into the door to charm away the pain ; and many 
sufferers from the toothache extract a tooth and insert it in a 
crevice of the door, or fix it in some other way, to insure their 
not being attacked again by the .same malady. Some curious 
individuals often try to peep behind the door, in the vain hope of 
catching a glimpse of the Kutb, should he happen to be there, 
and not at the moment invisible. He has also many other 
stations, but of inferior celebrity, in Cairo, as well as one at the 
tomb of the seyyid Ahmad El-Bedawee, at Tanta; another at 
El-Mahalleh (which, as well as Tanta, is in the Delta); and 
others in other places. He is believed to transport himself from 
Mekkeh to Cairo in an instant, and so also from any one place 
to another. Though he has a number of faA^oui-ite stations, he 
does not abide solely at these, but wanders throughout the whole 
world, among persons of every religion, whose appearance, dress, 
and language he assumes, and distributes to mankind, chiefly 


through the agency of the subordinate welees, evils and blessings, 
the awards of destiny. When a Kutb dies, he is immediately suc- 
ceeded in his office by another. 

Many of the Muslims say that Elijah, or Elias, whom the 
vulgar confound with El-Khidr,^^ was the Kutb of his time, and 
that he invests the successive kutbs. For they acknowledge 
that he has never died, asserting him to have drunk of the 
Fountain of Life. This particular in their supei^stitious notions 
respecting the kutbs, combmed with some others which I have 
before mentioned, is very curious when compared with what we 
are told in the Bible of Elijah — of his being ti'ansported from 
place to place by the Spirit of God, of his investing Elisha with 
his miraculous powers and his offices, and of the subjection of 
the other prophets to him and to his immediate successor. Some 
welees renounce the pleasures of the world and the society of 
mankind, and, in a desert place, give themselves up to meditation 
upon heaven and prayer, depending upon Divine Providence 
for their support ; but their retreat becomes known, and the 
Arabs daily bring them food. This again reminds us of the 
history of Elijah ; for, in the opinion of some critics, we should 
read for the word '"ravens," in the fourth and sixth verses of the 
seventeenth chapter of the second book of Kings, "Ai'abs." "I 
have commanded the Arabs to feed thee," " And the Arabs brought 
him bread," etc. 

Certaui welees are said to be commissioned by the Kutb to • 
perform offices which, according to the accounts of my inform- 
ants here, are far from being easy. These are termed " As- 
hab ed-Darak," which is interpreted as signifying " watchmen," 
or " overseers." In illustration of their employments, the following 
anecdote was related to me a few days ago. A devout tradesman 
in this city, who was ardently desirous of becoming a welee, 
applied to a person who was generally believed to belong to this 
holy class, and implored the latter to assist him to obtain the 
honour of an interview with the Kutb. The applicant, after 
liaving undergone a strict examination as to his motives, was 
desired to perform the ordinary ablution (el-wudo6) very early 
the next morning ; then to repair to the mosque of El-!Mu-eiyad 
(at an angle of which is the Bab Zuweyleh, or El-IMutawellee, 

(440) 1 fi 


before mentioned), and to lay hold of the first person whom he 
should see coming out of the great door of this mosque. He did 
so. The first person who came out was an old, venerable-looking 
man, but meanly clad, wearing a brown woollen gown (or zaa- 
boot) ; and this proved to be the Kutb. The candidate kissed his 
hand, and entreated to be admitted among the As-hab ed-Darak. 
After much hesitation the prayer was granted. The Kutb said, 
" Take charge of the district which consists of the Darb el-Ahmar 
and its immediate neighbourhood ; " and immediately the person 
thus addressed found himself to be a welee, and perceived that 
he was acquainted with things concealed from ordinary mortals : 
for a welee is said to be acquainted by God with all secrets 
necessaiy for him to know. It is commonly said of a welee that 
he knows what is secret or not discoverable by the senses, which 
seems plainly contradictory to what we read in several places in 
the Kur-an, that none knoweth what is secret (or hidden from the 
senses) but God. The Muslims, however, who are seldom at a 
loss in a discussion, argue that the passages above alluded to in 
the Kur-an imply the knowledge of secrets in an unrestricted 
sense ; and that God imparts to welees such secrets only as he 
thinks fit. 

The welee above mentioned, as soon as he had entered upon 
his office, walked through his district ; and seeing a man at a shop 
with a jar full of boiled beans before him, from which he was 
about to serve his customers as usual, took up a large piece of 
stone, and with it broke the jar. The bean-seller immediately 
jumped up, seized hold of a palm stick that lay by his side, and 
gave the welee a severe beating ; but the holy man complained not, 
nor did he utter a cry. As soon as he was allowed he walked away. 
When he was gone, the bean-seller began to try if he could gather 
up some of the scattered contents of the jar. A portion of the 
jar remained in its place, and on looking into this he saw a 
venomous serpent in it, coiled round, and dead. In horror at 
what he had done, he exclaimed, " There is no strength or power 
but in God ! I implore forgiveness of God, the Great ! What 
have I done ? This man is a welee, and has prevented my selling 
what would have poisoned my customers." He looked at every 
passenger all that day, in the hope of seeing again the saint whom 


lie had thus injured, that he might implore his forgiveness; but 
he saw him not, for he was too much bruised to be able to walk. 
On the following day, however, with his limbs still swollen from 
the blows he had received, the welee limped through his district, 
and broke a great jar of milk at a shop not far from that of the 
bean-seller; and the owner treated him as the bean-seller had 
done the day before. But while he was beating him, some persons 
ran up, and stopped his hand, informing him that the person 
whom he was thus punishing was a welee, and relating to him the 
affair of the serpent that was found in the jar of beans. " Go, 
and look," said they, "in your jar of milk, and you will find, at 
the bottom of it, something either poisonous or unclean." He 
looked, and found in the remains of the jar a dead dog. On the 
third day the welee, with the help of a staff, hobbled painfully up 
the Darb el-Ahmar, and saw a servant carrying upon his head a 
supper-tray covered with dishes of meat, vegetables, and fruit, for 
a party who were going to take a repast in the country; where- 
upon he put his staflf between the man's legs and overthrew him, 
and the contents of the dishes were scattered in the street. With 
a mouth full of curses, the servant immediately began to give the 
saint as severe a thrashing as he himself expected to receive from 
his disappointed master for this accident. But several persons soon 
collected around him ; and one of these bystanders observed a dog 
eat a part of the contents of one of the dishes, and, a moment 
after, fall down dead. He therefore instantly seized the hand of 
the servant and informed him of this circumstance, which proved 
that the man whom he had been beating was a welee. Every 
apology was made to the injured saint, with many prayers for his 
forgiveness ; but he was so disgusted with his new office, that he 
implored God and the Kutb to release him from it, and in an- 
swer to his solicitations his supernatural powers were withdrawn, 
and he returned to his shop, more contented than before. This 
story is received as true by the people of Cairo, and therefore I 
have inserted it ; for, in treating of superstitions, we have more 
to do with opinions than with facts. I am not sure, indeed, that 
it is altogether false : the supposed saint might have employed 
pei'sons to introduce the dead serpent and dog into the vessels 
which he broke. 1 am told that many a person has obtained 


the reputation of being a welee by ai'tifices of the kind just men- 

There have been many instances in Egypt of welees afflicting 
themselves by austerities similar to those which are often practised 
by devotees in India. At the present time there is living in Cairo 
a welee who has placed an iron collar round his neck, and chained 
himself to a wall of his chamber, and it is said that he has been 
in this state more than thirty years ; but some persons assert that 
he has often been seen to cover himself over with a blanket, as 
if to sleep, and that the blanket has been removed immediately 
after, and nobody found beneath it ! Stories of this kind are 
related and believed by persons who in many respects are en- 
dowed by good sense, and to laugh or express discredit on hear- 
ing them would give gi^eat offence. I was lately told that a 
certain welee being beheaded for a crime of which he was not 
guilty, his head spoke after it was cut off j and of another, de- 
capitated under similar circumstances, that his blood traced upon 
the ground, in Arabic characters, the following declaration of his 
innocence : " I am a welee of God, and have died a martyr." 

It is a very remarkable ti-ait in the character of the people of 
Egypt and other countries of the East, that Muslims, Christians, 
and Jews adopt each other's superstitions, while they abhor the 
more rational doctrines of each other's faiths. In sickness, the 
Muslim sometimes employs Christian and Jewish priests to pray 
for him ; the Christians and Jews, in the same predicament, often 
call in Muslim saints for the like purpose. Many Christians are 
in the frequent habit of visiting certain Muslim saints here : kiss- 
ing their hands ; begging their prayers, counsels, or prophecies ; 
and giving them money and other presents. 

Though their Prophet disclaimed the power of performing mir- 
acles, the Muslims attribute to him many ; and several miracles 
are still, they say, constantly or occasionally performed for his 
sake, as marks of the divine favour and honour. The pilgrims 
who have visited El-Medeeneh relate that there is seen every 
night a ray or column of faint light rising from the cupola over 
the grave of the Prophet to a considerable height, apparently to 
the clouds, or, as some say, to Paradise; but that the observer 
loses sight of it when he approaches very near the tomb. This 


is one of the most remarkable of the miracles which are related as 
being still witnessed. On my asking one of the most grave and 
sensible of all my jMuslim friends here, who had been on a pil- 
grimage and visited El-Medeeneh, whether this assertion were 
true, he averred that it was ; that he had seen it eveiy night of 
liis stay in that city ; and he remarked that it was a most striking 
and impressive proof of God's favour and honour for " our lord 
Mohammad." I did not presume to question the truth of what 
he asserted himself to have seen, nor to suggest that the great 
number of lights kept burning every night in the mosque might 
produce this effect; but to judge whether this might be the case, 
I asked my friend to describe to me the construction of the apart- 
ment of the tomb, its cupola, etc. He replied that he did not 
enter it, nor the Kaabeh at Mekkeh, partly from his being in a 
state of excessive nervous excitement (from his veneration for 
those holy buildings, but particularly for the former, which almost 
affected him with a kind of hysteric fit), and partly because, being 
of the sect of the Hanafees, he held it improper, after he should 
have stepped upon such sacred ground, ever again to run the risk 
of defiling his feet by walking barefooted ; consequently he would 
have been obliged always to wear leather socks, or mezz, within 
his outer shoes, which he said he could not afford to do. The 
pilgrims also assert that in approaching El-Medeeneh from the 
distance of three days' journey or more, they always see a flicker- 
ing lightning in the direction of the sacred city, which they be- 
lieve to proceed from the Prophet's tomb. They say that however 
they turn, they always see this lightning in the direction of El- 
Medeeneh. There is something strikingly poetical in this and in 
the former statement. 

A superstitious veneration, and honours unauthorized by the 
Kur-an or any of the Traditions, are paid by all sects of Muslims, 
excepting the Wahhabees, to deceased saints, even more than to 
those who are living ; and more particularly by the Muslims of 
Egypt. ^'^ Over the graves of most of the more celebrated saints are 
erected large and handsome mosques ; over that of a saint of less 
note (one who, by a life of sanctity or hypocrisy, has acquired the 
reputation of being a welee or devout sheykh) is constructed a 
small, square, white-washed building, crowned with a cupola. 


There is generally, directly over the vault in which the corpse is 
deposited, an oblong monument of stone or brick (called " tar- 
kebeeh ") or wood (in which case it is called " taboot ") ; and this 
is usually covered with silk or linen, with some words from the 
Kur-an worked upon it, and surrounded by a railing or screen, of 
wood or bronze, called "maksoorah." Most of the sanctuaries of 
saints in Egypt are tombs, but there are several which only con- 
tain some inconsiderable relic of the person to whom they are 
dedicated, and there are a few which are mere cenotaphs. The 
most sacred of all these sanctuaries is the mosque of the Hasaneyn, 
in which the head of the martyr El-Hoseyn, the son of the Imam 
'Alee and grandson of the Prophet, is said to be buried. Among 
others but little inferior in sanctity are the mosques of the sey- 
yideh Zeyneb (daughter of the Imam Alee and grand-daughter of 
the Prophet), the seyyideh Sekeeneh (daughter of the Imam El- 
Hoseyn), the seyyideh ISTefeeseh (great-grand-daughter of the Imam 
El-Hasan), and the Imam Esh-Shafe'ee, already mentioned as the 
author of one of the four great Muslim sects, that to which most 
of the people of Cairo belong. The buildings above mentioned, 
with the exception of the last two, are within the metropolis ; tlie 
last but one is within a southern suburb of Cairo, and the last in 
the great southern cemetery. 

The Egyptians occasionally visit these and other sanctuaries of 
their saints, either merely with the view of paying honour to the 
deceased, and performing meritorious acts for the sake of these 
venerated persons, which they believe will call down a blessing on 
themselves, or for the purpose of urging some special petition, as 
for the restoration of health, or for the gift of offspring, etc., — 
in the persuasion that the merits of the deceased will insure a 
favourable reception of the prayers which they offer up in such 
consecrated places. The generality of the Muslims regard their 
deceased saints as intercessors with the Deity, and make votive 
offerings to them. The visitor, on arriving at the tomb, should 
greet the deceased with the salutation of peace, and should utter 
the same salutation on entering the burial-ground ; but I believe 
that few persons observe this latter custom. In the former case, 
the visitor should front the face of the dead, and consequently 
turn his back to the kibleh. He walks round the maksoorah or 


the monument from left to right, and recites the Fat'hah, inaudibly 
or in a very low voice, before its door, or before each of its four 
sides. Sometimes a longer chapter of the Kur-an than the first 
(or Fat'hah) is recited afterwards, and sometimes a " khatmeh " 
(or recitation of the whole of the Kur-an) is performed on such an 
occasion. These acts of devotion are generally performed for the 
sake of the saint, though merit is likewise believed to reflect upon 
the visitor who makes a recitation. He usually says at the close 
of this, " [Extol] the perfection of thy Lord, the Lord of Might, 
exempting him from that which they [that is, the unbelievers] 
ascribe to him " (namely, the having a son, or a partaker of his 
godhead) ; and adds, " And peace be on the Apostles, and praise 
be to God, the Lord of all creatures. O God, I have transferred 
the merit of what I have recited from the excellent Kur-an to the 
person to whom this place is dedicated," or — "to the soul of this 
welee." Without such a declaration, or an intention to the same 
etFect, the merit of the recital belongs solely to the person who 
performs it. After this recital, the visitor, if it be his desire, offers 
up any prayer for temporal or spiritual blessings, generally using 
some such form as this — " God, I conjure thee by the Prophet, 
and by him to whom this place is dedicated, to grant me such and 
such blessings ; "' or, " My burdens be on God and on thee, O thou 
to whom this place is dedicated." In doing this, some persons 
face any side of the maksoorah. It is said to be more proper to 
face the maksoorah and the kibleh ; but I believe that the same 
rule should be observed in this case as in the salutation. During 
the prayer the hands are held as in the private supplications after 
the ordinary prayers of every day, and afterwards they are drawn 
down the face. Many of the visitors kiss the threshold of the 
building, and the walls, windows, maksoorah, etc. This, how- 
ever, the more strict disapprove, asserting it to be an imitation 
of a custom of the Christians. The rich, and persons in easy 
circumstances, when they visit the tomb of a saint, distribute 
money or bread to the poor, and often give money to one or more 
water-carriers to distribute water to the poor and thirsty, for the 
sake of the saint. There are particular days of the week on 
which certain tombs are more generally visited : thus, the mosque 
of the Hasaneyn is mostly visited by men on Tuesday, and by 


women on Saturday; tliat of the seyyideh Zeyneb, on Wednesday, 
that of the Iniani Esh-Shafe'ee, on Friday. On these occasions it 
is a common custom for the male visitors to take with them sjorigs 
of myrtle. They place some of these on the monument, or on the 
floor within the maksoorah, and take back the remainder, which 
they disti'ibute to their friends. The poor sometimes place 
" khoos " (or palm leaves), as most persons do upon the tombs of 
their friends and relations. The women of Cairo, instead of the 
myrtle or palm leaves, often place roses, flowers of the henna-tree, 
jasmine, etc. 

At almost every village in Egypt is the tomb of some favourite 
or patron saint, which is generally visited on a particular day of 
the week by many of the inhabitants, chiefly women, some of 
whom bring thither bread, which they leave there for poor travel- 
lers or any other persons. Some also place small pieces of money 
in these tombs. These gifts are offerings to the sheykh, or given 
for his sake. Another custom common among the peasants is to 
make votive sacrifices at the tombs of their sheykhs. For in- 
stance, a man makes a vow (" nedr ") that if he recover from a 
sickness, or obtain a son or any other specific object of desire, he 
will give to a certain sheykh (deceased) a goat, or a lamb, or a 
sheejo, etc. If he attain his object, he sacrifices the animal which 
he has vowed at the tomb of the sheykh, and makes a feast with 
its meat for any persons who may choose to attend. Having 
given the animal to the saint, he thus gives to the latter the 
merit of feeding the poor. Little kids are often vowed as future 
sacrifices, and have the right ear slit, or are marked in some other 
way. It is not uncommon, too, without any definite view but 
that of obtaining general blessings, to make these vows; and 
sometimes a peasant vows that he will sacrifice, for the sake of a 
saint, a calf which he possesses, as soon as it is full grown and 
fatted. It is let loose, by consent of all his neighbours, to pasture 
where it will, even in fields of young wheat ; and at last, after it 
has been sacrificed, a public feast is made with its meat. Many a 
large bull is thus given away. 

Almost every celebrated saint deceased is honoured by an 
anniversary birthday festival, which is called " moolid," or more 
properly "m61id." On the occasions of such festivals many per- 


sons visit the tomb, both as a duty and as a supposed means of 
obtaining a special blessing ; fikees are hired to recite the Kur-an, 
for the sake of the saint ; fakeers often perform zikrs ; and the 
people living in the neighbourhood of the tomb hang lamps before 
their doors, and devote half the night to such pleasures as those 
of smoking, sipping coffee, and listening to story-tellers at the 
cofFee-shops, or to the recitals of the Kur-an and the zikrs. I have 
now a cluster of lamps hanging before my door, in honour of the 
moolid of a sheykh who is buried near the house in which I am 
living. Even the native Christians often hang up lamps on these 
occasions. The festivities often continue several days. The most 
famous moolids celebrated in Cairo, next to that of the Prophet, 
are those of the Hasaneyn and the seyyideh Zeyneb, accounts of 
which will be found in a subsequent chapter on the periodical 
public festivals, etc., of the people of Egypt. Most of the Egyp- 
tians not only expect a blessing to follow their visiting the tomb 
of a celebrated saint, but they also dread that some misfortune 
will befall them if tliey neglect this act. Thus, while I am writing 
these lines, an acquaintance of mine is suffering from an illness 
which he attributes to his having neglected, for the last two years, 
to attend the festivals of the seyyid Ahmad El-Bedawee, at Tanta, 
this being the period of one of these festivals. The tomb of this 
saint attracts almost as many visitors, at the periods of the great 
annual festivals, from the metropolis, and from various parts of 
Lower Egypt, as Mekkeh does pilgrims from the whole of the 
Muslim world. Three moolids are celebrated in honour of him 
every year— one, about the tenth of the Coptic month of Toobeh 
(17th or 18th of January) ; the second, at or about the vernal 
equinox ; and the third, or great moolid, about a month after 
the summer solstice (or about the middle of the Coptic month of 
Ebeeb), when the Nile has risen considerably, but the dams of the 
canals are not yet cut. Each lasts one week and a day, beginning 
on a Friday, and ending on the afternoon of the next Friday; and 
on each night there is a display of fireworks. One week after 
each of these is celebrated the moolid of the seyyid Ibraheem Ed- 
Dasookee, at the town of Dasook, on the east bank of the western 
branch of the Nile. Tlie seyyid Ibraheem was a very famous 
saint, next in rank to the seyyid El-Bedawee. These moolids, 



both of the seyyid El-Bedawee and of the seyyid Ibraheem, are 
great fairs as well as religious festivals. At the latter, most of 
the visitors remain in their boats ; and some of the Saadeeyeh 
darweeshes of Rasheed exhibit their feats with serpents — some 
carrying serpents with silver rings in their mouths, to prevent 
their biting ; others partly devouring these reptiles alive. The 
religious ceremonies at both are merely zikrs, and recitals of the 
Kur-an. It is customary among the Muslims, as it was among 
the Jews, to rebuild, whitewash, and decorate the tombs of their 
saints, and occasionally to put a new covering over the tarkeebeh 
or taboot ; and many of them do this from the same pharisaic 
motives which actuated the Jews. (See Matt, xxiii. 29.) 

" Darweeshes " are very numerous in Egypt; and some of them 
who confine themselves to religious exercises, and subsist by alms, 
are much respected in this country, particularly by the lower 
orders. Various artifices are employed by persons of this class to 
obtain the reputation of sujDerior sanctity, and of being endowed 
with the power of performing miracles. Many of them are re- 
garded as welees. 

A direct descendant of Aboo-Bekr, the first Khaleefeh, having 
the title of " Esh-Sheykh el-Bekree," and regarded as the repre- 
sentative of that prince, holds authority over all orders of dar- 
weeshes in Egypt. The present Sheykh el-Bekree, who is also 
descended from the Prophet, is Nakeeb el-Ashraf, or chief of the 
Shereefs. I may here add that the second Khaleefeh, Omar, has 
likewise his representative, who is the sheykh of the 'Enaneeyeh 
or Owlad 'Enau, an order of darweeshes so named from one of 
their celebrated sheykhs, Ibn-'Enan. 'Osman has no rejDresenta- 
tive, having left no issue. The representative of 'Alee is called 
Sheykh es-Sadat, or Sheykh of the Seyyids or Shereefs — a title 
of less importance than that of Nakeeb of the Shereefs. Each of 
these three .sheykhs is termed the occupant of the "seggadeh" 
(or prayer- carpet) of his great ancestor. So also the sheykh of 
an order of darweeshes is called the occupant of the seggadeh of 
the founder of the order. The seggadeh is considered as the 
spiritual throne. There are four great seggadehs of darweeshes 
in Egypt, which are those of four great orders about to be men- 


The most celebrated orders of darweeslies in Egypt are the 
followmg : — 1. The " Rifa'eeyeh " (in the singular " Rifa'ee "). 
This order was founded by the seyyid Ahmad Rifa'ah El-Kebeer. 
Its banners and the turbans of its members are black ; or the 
latter are of a very deep blue woollen stuff, or muslin of a veiy 
dark greenish hue. The Rifa'ee darweeshes are celebrated for the 
performance of many wonderful feats. The " Tlwaneeyeh," or 
"Owlad 'Ilwan," who ai'e a sect of the Rifa'ees, pretend to thrust 
iron spikes into their eyes and bodies without sustaining any in- 
jury ; and in appearance they do this, in such a manner as to 
deceive any person who can believe it possible for a man to do 
such things in reality. They also break large masses of stone on 
their chests, eat live coals, glass, etc. ; and are said to pass swords 
completely through their bodies, and packing-needles through both 
their cheeks, without suftering any pain or leaving any wound ; 
but such performances are now seldom witnessed. I am told that 
it was a common practice for a darweesh of this order to hollow 
out a piece of the trunk of a palm tree, fill it with rags soaked 
with oil and tar, then set fire to these contents, and carry the 
burning mass under his arm in a religious procession (wearing only 
drawers), the flames curling over his bare chest, back, and head, 
and apparently doing him no injury. The " Saadeeyeh," an order 
founded by the sheykh Saad-ed-Deen El-Gibawee, are another 
and more celebrated sect of the Rifa'ees. Their banners are 
green, and their turbans of the same colour, or of the dark hue 
of the Rifa'ees in general. There are many darweeshes of this 
order who handle with impunity live venomous serpents, and 
scorpions, and partly devour them. The serpents, however, they 
render incapable of doing any injury by extracting their venomous 
fangs ; and doubtless they also deprive the scorpions of their 
poison. On certain occasions (as, for instance, on that of the 
festival of the birth of the Prophet) the sheykh of the Saadeeyeh 
rides on horseback over the bodies of a number of his darweeshes 
and other persons, who throw themselves on the ground for the 
purpose ; and all assert that they are not injured by the tread of 
the horse. This ceremony is called the "ddseh." Many Rifa'ee 
and Saadee darweeshes obtain their livelihood by going about to 
charm away serpents from houses. Of the feats of these modern 


Psylli an account will be given in another chapter. 2. The 
" Kadireeyeh," an order founded by the famous seyyid 'Abd-El- 
Kadir El-Geelanee. Their banners and turbans are white. jNIost 
of the Kadireeyeh of Egypt are fishermen ; these, in religious pro- 
cessions, carry upon poles nets of various colours (green, yellow, 
red, white, etc.), as the banners of their order. 3. The " Alime- 
deeyeh," or order of the seyyid Ahmad El-Bedawee, whom I have 
lately mentioned. This is a very numerous and highly-respected 
order. Their banners and turbans are red. The " Beiyoomee- 
yeh " (founded by the seyyid Alee El-Beiyoomee), the " Shaara- 
weeyeh " (founded by the sheykh Esh-Shaarawee), the " Shinna- 
weeyeli " (founded by the seyyid 'Alee Esh-Shinnaw^ee), and many 
other orders, are sects of the Ahmedeeyeh. The Shinnaweeyeh 
train an ass to perform a strange part in the ceremonies of the 
last day of the moolid of their great patron saint, the seyyid 
Ahmad El-Bedawee, at Tanta. The ass, ©f its own accord, enters 
the mosque of the seyyid, proceeds to the tomb, and there stands, 
while multitudes crowd around it, and each person who can ap- 
proach near enough to it plucks off some of its hair, to use as a 
charm, until the skin of the poor beast is as bare as the palm of a 
man's hand. There is another sect of the Ahmedeeyeh, called 
"Owlad Nooh," all young men, who wear "tartoors" (or high 
caps), with a tuft of pieces of various coloured cloth on the top, 
wooden swords, and numerous strings of beads, and carry a kind of 
whip (called " firkilleh "), a thick twist of coi'ds. 4. The " Bara- 
himeli " or " Burhameeyeh," the order of the seyyid Ibraheem Ed- 
Dasookee, whose moolid has been mentioned above. Their banners 
and tuj'bans are green. There are many other classes of darweeshes, 
some of whom are sects of one or other of the above orders. Among 
the more celebrated of them are the " Hefnaweeyeh," the " 'Afee- 
feeyeh,"the "Demirdasheeyeh," the "Nakshibendeeyeh," the "Bek- 
reeyeh," and the " Leyseej^eh. " 

It is impossible to become acquainted with all the tenets, rules, 
and ceremonies of the darweeshes, as many of them, like those of 
the freemasons, are not to be divulged to the uninitiated. A dar- 
weesh with whom I am acquainted thus described to me his taking 
the '"ahd," or initiatory covenant, which is nearly the same in all 
the orders. He was admitted by tlie sheykh of the Demirda- 


sheeyeli. Having first performed the ablution preparatoi'y to 
prayer (the wudod), he seated liimself upon the ground before the 
sheykh, who was seated in like manner. The sheykh and he (the 
"mureed," or candidate) then clasped their right hands together 
in the manner which I have described as practised in making the 
marriage-contract. In this attitude, and with their hands covered 
by the sleeve of the sheykh, the candidate took the covenant, re- 
peating after the sheykh the following words, commencing with 
the foi'm of a common oath of repentance : — "I beg forgiveness of 
God, the Gi"eat " (three times) ; " than whom there is no other 
deity ; the Living, the Everlasting. I turn to him with repentance, 
and beg his grace, and forgiveness, and exemption from the fire." 
The sheykh then said to him, " Dost thou turn to God with re- 
pentance ? " He replied, " I do turn to God with repentance ; 
and I return unto God ; and I am grieved for what I have done 
[amiss], and I determine not to relaj^se " — and then repeated, after 
the sheykh, '' I beg for the favour of God, the Great, and the 
noble Prophet ; and I take as my sheykh, and my guide unto God 
(whose name be exalted), my master 'Abd Er-Raheem Ed-Demir- 
dashee El-Khalwet'ee Er-Rifa'ee En-Nebawee ; not to change, 
nor to separate ; and God is our witness. By God, the Great ! " 
(this oath was repeated three times) ; " there is no deity but God " 
(this also was repeated three times). The sheykh and the mureed 
then recited the Fat'hah together, and the latter concluded the 
ceremony by kissing the sheykh's hand. 

The religious exercises of the darweeshes chiefly consist in the 
performance of zikrs. Sometimes standing in the form of a cir- 
cular or oblong ring, or in two rows, facing each other, and some- 
times sitting, they exclaim, or chant, "La ilaha illa-llah " ("There 
is no deity but God"), or, "Allah ! Allah ! Allah ! " (" God ! God ! 
God! "), or repeat other invocations, etc., over and over again, until 
their strength is almost exhausted, accompanying their ejaculations 
or chants with a motion of the head, or of the whole body, or of 
the arms. From long habit they are able to continue these exer- 
cises for a surprising length of time witliout intermission. They 
are often accompanied at intervals by one or more players upon 
a kind of flute called a " nay," or a double reed-pipe called " ar- 
ghool,"' and by persons singing religiou>s odes ; and some darweeshes 


use a little drum, called "baz,'' or a tambourine, during their zikrs. 
Some also perform a peculiar' dance, the description of which, as 
■well as of several different zikrs, I reserve for future chapters. 

Some of the rites of darweeshes (as forms of prayer, modes of 
zikr, etc.) are observed only by particular orders; others, by mem- 
bers of various oi'ders. Among tlie latter may be mentioned the 
rites of the " Khalwet'ees " and " Shazilees," two great classes, 
each of which has its sheykh. The chief difference between these 
is that each has its particular form of prayer to repeat every 
morning, and that the former distinguish themselves by occasional 
seclusion ; whence their appellation of Khalwet'ees. The prayer 
of this class is repeated before daybreak, and is called " wird es- 
sahar ; " that of the Shazilees, which is called " hezb esh-Shazilee," 
after daybreak. Sometimes a Khalwet'ee enters a solitary cell, 
and remains in it forty days and nights, fasting from daybreak till 
sunset the whole of this period. Sometimes also a number of the 
same class confine themselves, each in a separate cell, in the se- 
pulchral mosque of the sheykh Ed-Demirdashee, on the north of 
Cairo, and remain there three days and nights, on the occasion of 
the moolid of that saint, and only eat a little rice, and drink a 
cup of sherbet in the evening. They employ themselves in repeat- 
ing certain forms of prayer, etc., not imparted to the uninitiated, 
only coming out of their cells to unite in the five daily prayers in 
the mosque, and never answering any one who speaks to them but 
by saying, "There is no deity but God." Those who observe the 
forty days' fast, and seclude themselves during that long period, 
practise nearly the same rules, and employ their time in repeating 
the testimony of the faith, imploring forgiveness, praising God, etc. 

Almost all the darweeshes of Egypt are tradesmen or artisans 
or agriculturists, and only occasionally assist in the rites and 
ceremonies of their respective orders. But there are some who 
have no other occupations than those of performing zikrs at the 
festivals of saints and at private entertainments, and of chanting 
in funeral processions. These are termed "fukara," or "fakeers," 
which is an appellation given also to the poor in general, but 
especially to poor devotees. Some obtain their livelihood as 
water-carriers, by supplying the passengers in the streets of Cairo 
and the visitors at religious festivals with water, which they carry 


in an earthen \essel, or a goat's skin on the back. A few lead 
a wandering life, and subsist on alms, which they often demand 
with great importunacy and effrontery. Some of these distinguish 
themselves in the same manner as certain reputed saints before 
mentioned, by the " dilk," or coat of patches, and the staff with 
shreds of cloth of different colours attached to the top ; others 
wear fantastic dresses of various descriptions. 

Some Rifa'ee darweeshes (besides those who follow the occupa- 
tion of charming away serpents from houses) pursue a wandering 
life, travelling about Egypt, and profiting by a ridiculous supersti- 
tion which I must here mention. A venerated saint called See 
Da-ood El-Azab (or Master David the Bachelor), who lived at 
Tefahineh, a village in Lower Egypt, had a calf, which always 
attended him, brought him watei*, etc. Since his death, some 
Rifa'ee darweeshes have been in the habit of rearing a number 
of calves at his native place or burial-place above named, teach- 
ing them to walk upstairs, to lie down at command, etc., and then 
going about the country, each with his calf, to obtain alms. The 
calf is called " "Egl El-'Azab " (the Calf of El-'Azab, or of the 
Bachelor). I once called into my house one of these darweeshes, 
with his calf, the only one I have seen. It was a buffalo calf, and 
had two bells suspended to it — one attached to a collar round its 
neck, and the other to a girth round its body. It walked up the 
stairs very well, but showed that it had not been very well trained 
in every respect. The 'Egl El-'Azab is vulgarly believed to bring 
into the house a blessing from the saint after whom it is called. 

There are numerous wandering Turkish and Persian darweeshes 
in Egypt, and to these, more than to the few Egyptian darweeshes 
who lead a similar life, must the character for impudence and 
importunacy be ascribed. Very often, particularly in Ramadan, 
a foreign darweesh goes to the mosque of the Hasaneyn, which is 
tliat most frequented by the Turks and Persians, at the time of the 
Friday-prayers, and when the Khateeb is reciting the first khut- 
beh, passes between the ranks of persons who are sitting upon the 
floor, and places before each a little slip of paper, upon which are 
written a few words, generally exhortative to charity (as " He who 
giveth alms will be provided for" — "The poor darweesh asketh 
an alms," etc.); by which proceeding he usually obtains from each, 


or almost every person, a piece of five or ten faddahs, or more. 
Many of tlie Persian darweeshes in Egypt carry an oblong bowl 
of cocoanut or wood or metal, in which they receive their alms 
and put their food, and a wooden spoon ; and most of the foreign 
darweeshes wear dresses peculiar to their respective orders. They 
are chiefly distinguished by the cap. The most common description 
of cap is of a sugar-loaf or conical shape, and made of felt. The 
other articles of dress are generally a vest and full drawers or 
trousers, or a shirt and belt, and a coarse cloak or long coat. 
The Persians here all affect to be Sunnees. The Turks are the 
more intrusive of the two classes. 

Here I may mention another superstition of the Egyptians, 
and of the Arabs in general — namely, their belief that birds and 
beasts have a language by which they communicate their thoughts 
to each other, and celebx'ate the pi'aises of God. 



Oke of the most remarkable traits in modern Egyptian super- 
stition is the belief in written charms. The composition of most 
of these amulets is founded upon magic, and occasionally employs 
the pen of almost every village schoolmaster in Egypt. A person 
of this profession, however, seldoms pursues the study of magic 
further than to acquire the formulae of a few charms, most com- 
monly consisting, for the greater part, of certain passages of the 
Kur-an, and names of God, together with those of angels, genii, 
prophets, or eminent saints, intermixed with combinations of nu- 
merals, and with diagrams, all of which are supposed to have great 
secret virtues. 

The most esteemed of all " hegabs " (or charms) is a " mus-haf " 
(or copy of the Kur-an). It used to be the general custom of the 
Turks of the middle and higher orders, and of many other Mus- 
lims, to wear a small mus-haf in an embroidered leather or velvet 
case, hung upon the right side by a silk string, which passed over 
the left shoulder. But this custom is not now very common. 


During my former visit to this country, a respectable Turk, in the 
military dress, was seldom seen without a case of this description 
lapon his side, though it often contained no hegab. The mus-haf 
and other hegabs are still worn by many women, generally enclosed 
in cases of gold, or of gilt or plain silver. To the former, and to 
many other charms, most extensive efficacy is attributed ; they are 
esteemed preservatives against disease, enchantment, the evil eye, 
and a variety of other evils. The charm next in point of estima- 
tion to the mus-haf is a book or scroll containing certain chapters 
of the Kur-an, as the 6th, 18th, 36th, 44th, 55th, 67th, and 78th, 
or seme others, generally seven. Another charm, which is be- 
lieved to pi'otect the wearer (who usually places it within his cap) 
from the devil and all evil genii, and many other objects of fear, 
is a piece of paper inscribed with the following passages from the 
Kur-an : — ■'■'■ And the iweservation of both [heaven and earth] is no 
burden unto Him. He is the High, the Great " (chap, ii., ver. 256). 
"But God is the best protector; and he is the most merciful of 
those who show mercy" (chap, xii., ver. 64). "They watch him 
by the command of God" (chap, xiii., ver. 12). "And we guard 
them from every devil driven away with stones " (chap, xv., ver. 
17). "And a guard against every rebellious devil " (chap, xxxvii., 
ver. 7). "And 2,. guard. This is the decree of the Mighty, the 
Wise" (chap. Ixi., ver. 11). "And God encompasseth them be- 
hind. Verily it is a glorious Kur-an, [written] on a 2^'"'^^^'''^^^ 
tablet" (chap. Ixxxv., ver. 20, 21, 22). The ninety-nine names 
or epithets of God, comprising all the divine atti'iVjutes, if fre- 
quently repeated, and written on a paper, and worn on the person, 
are supposed to make the wearer a particular object for the exer- 
cise of all the beneficent attributes. In like manner it is believed 
that the ninety-nine names, or titles, etc., of the Prophet, written 
upon anything, compose a charm which (according to his own as- 
sertion, as recorded by his cousin and son-in-law the Imam 'Alee) 
will, if placed in a house, and frequently read from beginning to 
end, keep away every misfortune, pestilence, and all diseases, in- 
firmity, the envious eye, enchantment, burning, ruin, anxiety, 
grief, and trouble. After repeating each of these names, the 
Muslim adds, " God favour and preserve him ! "~^ Similar vii'tues 
are ascribed to a charTii composed of the names of the "■ A.s-hab el- 

(440) 17 



Kahf " (or Companions of the Cave, also called the Seven Sleepers), 
together with the name of their dog. These names are sometimes 
engraved in the bottom of a drinking-cup, and more commonly on 
the round tray of tinned copper which, placed on a stool, forms 
the table for dinner, supper, etc. Another charm, supposed to 
have similar efficacy, is composed of the names of those jDaltiy 
articles of property which the Prophet left at his decease. These 
relics were two " sebhahs " (or rosaries), his " mus-haf " (in unar- 
ranged fragments), his " muk-hulah " (or the vessel in which he 
kept the black powder with which he painted the edges of his eye- 
lids), two " seggadehs " (or prayer-carpets), a hand-mill, a staff, a 
tooth-stick, a suit of clothes, the ewer which he used in ablution, a 
pair of sandals, a " burdeh " (or a kind of woollen covering), three 

mats, a coat of mail, a long woollen coat, his white mule " ed- 
duldul," and his she-camel "el-'adba." Certain verses of the Kur- 
an are also written upon slips of paper, and worn upon the person 
as safeguards against various evils, and to procure restoration to 
health, love and friendship, food, etc. These and other charms, 
enclosed in cases of gold, silver, tin, leather, or silk, etc., are worn 
by many of the modern Egyptians, men, women, and children. 

It is very common to see children in this country with a charm 
against the evil eye, enclosed in a case, generally of a triangular 
form, attached to the top of the cap; and horses often have 
similar appendages. The Egyptians take many precautions 
against the evil eye, and anxiously endeavour to avert its 
imagined consequences. When a person expresses what is con- 
sidered improper or envious admiration of anything, he is generally 


reproved by the individual whom he has thus alarmed, who says 
to him, "Bless the Prophet!" and if the envier obeys, saying, 
" O God, favour him ! " no ill effects are apprehended. It is con- 
sidered very improper for a person to express his admiration of 
another, or of any object which is not his own property, by 
saying, " God preserve us ! " " How pretty ! " or, " Very pretty ! " 
The most approved expression in such cases is " Ma shaa-Uah ! " 
(or "What God willeth [cometh to pass]!"), which implies both 
admiration and submission to, or approval of, the wall of God. A 
person who has exclaimed " How pretty ! " or used similar words, 
is often desired to say rather, " Ma shaa-llah ! " as well as to bless 
the Prophet. In the second chapter of this work a remarkable 
illustration has been given of the fear which mothers in Egypt 
entertain of the effect of the evil eye upon their children. It is 
the custom in this country, when a person takes the child of 
another into his arms, to say, "In the name of God, the Com- 
passionate, the Merciful ! " and, " O God, favour our lord Moham- 
mad ! " and then to add, " ]Ma shaa-Uah ! " It is also a common 
custom of the people of Egypt, when admiring a child, to say, " I 
seek refuge with the Lord of the Day -break for thee ! " alluding to 
the Chapter of the Day-break (the 113th chapter of the Kur-an), 
in the end of which protection is implored against the mischief 
of the envious. The parents, when they see a person stare at 
or seem to envy their young offspring, sometimes cut off a piece 
of the skirts of his clothes, burn it Avith a little salt (to which 
some add coriander-seed, alum, etc.), and fumigate with the smoke 
and sprinkle with the ashes the child or children. This, it is said, 
should be done a little before sunset, when the sun becomes red. 

Alum is very generally used, in the following manner, by the 
people of Egypt, to counteract the effects of the evil eye. A piece 
of about the size of a walnut is placed upon burning coals, and 
left until it has ceased to bubble. This should be done a short 
time before sunset ; and the person who performs the operation 
should repeat three times, while the alum is burning, the first 
chapter of the Kur-an, and the last three chapters of the same, 
all of which are very short. On taking the alum off the fire, it 
will be found (we are told) to have assumed the form of the person 
whose envy or malice has given occasion for this process : it is 


then to be pounded, put into some food, and given to a black dog 
to be eaten. I have once seen tliis done, by a man who suspected 
his wife of having looked upon him with an evil eye ; and in this 
case the alum did assume a form much resembling that of a 
woman, in what the man declared was a peculiar posture in which 
his wife was accustomed to sit. But the shape which the alum 
takes depends almost entirely on the disposition of the coals, and 
can hardly be such that the imagination may not see in it some 
resemblance to a human being. Another supposed mode of 
obviating the effects of the envious eye is to prick a paper with 
a needle, saying at the same time, " This is the eye of such a one, 
the envier ; " and then to burn the paper. Alum is esteemed a 
very efficacious charm against the evil eye : sometimes a small, 
flat piece of it, ornamented with tassels, is hung to the top of a 
child's cap. A tassel of little shells and beads is also used in the 
same manner, and for the same purpose. The small shells called 
cowries are especially considered preservatives against the evil eye, 
and hence, as well as for the sake of ornament, they are often 
attached to the trappings of camels, horses, and other animals, and 
sometimes to the caps of children. Such appendages are evidently 
meant to attract the eye to themselves, and so to prevent observa- 
tion and envy of the object which they are designed to protect. 

To counteract the effects of the evil eye, many persons in 
Egypt, but mostly women, make use of what is called " mey'ah 
mubarakah " (or blessed storax), which is a mixture of various 
ingredients that will be mentioned below, prepared and sold only 
during the first ten days of the month of Moharram. During 
this period we often see in the streets of Cairo men carrying 
about this mixture of mey'ah, etc., for sale, and generally crying 
some such words as the following : " Mey'ah mubarakah ! A 
new year and blessed 'A'shoora ! The most blessed of years 
[may this be] to the believers ! Ya mey'ah mubarakah ! " The 
man who sells it beai-s upon his head a round tray, covered with 
different coloured sheets of paper — red, yellow, etc. — upon which 
is placed the valuable mixture. In the middle is a large heap of 
"tifl" (or refuse) of a dark reddish material for dyeing, mixed 
with a little "mey'ah" (or storax), coriander-seed, and seed of 
the fennel-flower. Round this large heap are smaller heaps : one 


consisting of salt dyed blue with indigo ; another, of salt dyed red ; 
a third, of salt dyed yellow; a fourth, of " sheeh " (a kind of 
wormwood) ; a fifth, of dust of " liban " (or frankincense). These 
are all the ingredients of the mey'ah mubarakah. The seller 
is generally called into the house of the purchaser. Having 
placed his tray before him, and received a plate or a piece of 
paper in which to put the quantity to be purchased, he takes a 
little from one heap, then from another, then from a third, and so 
on, until he has taken some from each heap ; after which, again 
and again, he takes an additional quantity from each kind. While 
he does this he chants a long spell, generally commencing thus : 
" In the name of God ! and by God ! There is no conqueror that 
conquereth God, the Lord of the East and the West : we are all 
his servants : we must acknowledge his unity : his unity is an 
illustrious attribute." After some words on the virtues of salt, 
he proceeds to say : " I charm thee from the eye of girl, sharper 
than a spike ; and from the eye of woman, sharper than a pruning- 
knife ; and from the eye of boy, more painful than a whip ; and 
from the eye of man, sharper than a chopping-knife ; " and so on. 
Then he relates how Solomon deprived the evil eye of its in- 
fluence, and afterwards enumerates every article of property 
that the house is likely to contain, and that the person who pur- 
chases his wonderful mixture may be conjectured to possess, all 
of which he charms against the influence of the eye. Many of 
the expressions which he employs in this spell are very indiculous, 
words being introduced merely for the sake of rhyme. The mey'ah 
mubarakah, a handful of which may be purchased for five faddahs, 
is treasured up by the purchaser during the ensuing year : and 
whenever it is feared that a child or other person is affected by 
the evil eye, a little of it is thi'own upon some burning coals in 
a chafing-dish, and the smoke which results is generally made to 
ascend upon the supposed sufferer. 

It is a custom among the higher and middle classes in Cairo, 
on the occasion of a marriage, to hang chandeliers in the street 
before the bridegroom's house ; and it often happens that a crowd 
is collected to see a very large and handsome chandelier sus- 
pended : in this case it is a common practice to divert the atten- 
tion of the spectators by throwing down and breaking a large jar, 


ov by some other artifice, lest an envious eye should cause the 
chandelier to fall. Accidents which confirm the Egyptians in 
their superstitions respecting the evil eye often occur : for instance, 
a friend of mine has just related to me that a short time ago he 
saw a camel carrying two very large jars of oil ; a woman stopped 
before it, and exclaimed, " God preserve us ! What large jars ! " 
The conductor of the cainel did not tell her to bless the Prophet ; 
and the camel, a few minutes after, fell, and broke both the jars 
and one of its own legs. 

"While writing these notes on modern Egyptian superstitions, I 
have been amused by a co)nplaint of one of my Masree [Caireen] 
friends, which will serve to illustrate what I have just stated. " The 
Basha," he said, " having, a few days ago, given up his monopoly 
of the meat, the butchei's now slaughter for their own shops ; and 
it is quite shocking to see fine sheep hung up in the streets, quite 
whole, tail and all, before the public eye, so that every beggar wlio 
passes by envies them ; and one might, therefore, as well eat poison 
as such meat." My cook has made the same complaint to me; and 
rather than purchase from one of the shops near at hand, takes the 
trouble of going to one in a distant quarter, kept by a man who 
conceals his meat from the view of the passengers in the street. 

Many of the tradesmen of the metropolis, and of other towns 
of Egypt, place over their shops (generally upon the hanging 
shutter which is turned up in front) a paper inscribed with the 
name of God, or that of the Prophet, or both, or the profession of 
the faith ("There is no deity but God: Mohammad is God's 
Apostle "), the words, " In the name of God, the Compassionate, 
the Merciful," or some maxim of the Prophet, or a verse of the 
Kur-an (as, " Yerily we have granted thee a manifest victory " 
[ch. xlviii., vei\ 1], and "Assistance from God, and a speedy vic- 
tory; and do thou bear good tidings to the believers" [ch. Ixi., 
ver. 13]), or an invocation to the Deity, such as, "O Thou Opener 
[of the doors of prosperity, or subsistence] ! O Thou Wise ! O 
Thou Supplier of our wants ! Thou Bountiful ! " . This invo- 
cation is often pronounced by the tradesman when he first opens 
his shop in the morning, and by the pedestrian vendor of small 
commodities, bread, vegetables, etc., when he sets out on his 
daily rounds. It is a custom also among the lower orders to put 


the first piece of money that they I'eceive in the day to the lips 
and forehead before putting it in the pocket. 

Besides the inscriptions over shops, we often see in Cairo the 
invocation " O God ! " sculptured over the door of a private 
house, and the words " The Excellent Creator is the Everlasting," 
or, "He is the Excellent Creatoi", tlie Everlasting," painted in 
large characters upon the door, both as a charm and to remind 
the master of the house, whenever he enters it, of his own mor- 
tality. These words are often inscribed upon the door of a house 
when its former master, and many or all of its former inhabitants, 
have been removed by death, 

The most approved mode of charming away sickness or disease 
is to write certain passages of the Kur-an on the inner surface of 
an earthenware cup or bowl ; then to pour in some water, and 
stir it until the writing is quite washed oif ; when the watei*, with 
the sacred words thus infused in it, is to be drunk by the patient. 
These words are as follow : "And he will heal the breasts of the 
people who believe" (chap, ix., ver. 14). "O men, now hath an 
admonition come unto you from your Lord, and a remedy for what 
is in your breasts" (chap, x., ver. 58). "Wherein is a remedy 
for men" (chap, xvi., ver. 71). "We send down, of the Kur-an, 
that which is a remedy and mercy to the believers " (chap, xvii., 
ver. 84). " And when I am sick he hecdeth me " (chap, xxii., ver. 
80). " Say, It is, to those who believe, a guide and a remedy " 
(chap, xli., ver. 44). Four of these verses, notwithstanding they 
are thus used, refer not to diseases of the body but of the 
mind; and another (the third) alludes to the virtues of honey J 
On my applying to my sheykh (or tutor) to point out to me in 
what chapters these verses were to be found, he begged me not to 
translate them into my own language, because the translation of 
the Kur-an, unaccompanied by the original text, is prohibited : 
not that he seemed ashamed of the practice of employing these 
words as a charm, and did not wish my countrymen to be in- 
formed of the custom; for he expressed his full belief in their 
efficacy, even in the case of an infidel patient, provided he had 
proper confidence in their virtue. " Seeing," he observed, " that 
the Prophet (God favour and preserve him !) has said, ' If thou 
confide in God with true confidence, he will sustain thee as he 


sustaineth the biixls.'" I silenced bis scruples on the subject of 
translating these verses by telling him that we had an English 
translation of the whole of the Kur-an. Sometimes, for the cure 
of diseases, and to counteract poisons, etc., a draught of water 
from a metal cup, having certain passages of the Kur-an and 
talismanic characters and figures engraved in the interior, is 
administered to the patient. I have a cup of this description, 
lately given to me here (in Cairo), much admired by my Muslim 
acquaintances. On the exterior is an inscription enumerating its 
virtues : it is said to possess charms that will counteract all 
poisons, etc., and the evil eye, and cure "all sicknesses and 
diseases, excepting the sickness of death." I have seen here 
another cup which ajDpeared to have been exactly similar to that 
above mentioned, but its inscriptions were partly effaced. The 
secret virtues of the Kur-an are believed to be very numerous. 
One day on my refusing to eat of a disli that I feared would do 
me harm, I was desired to repeat the Soorat Kureysh (106th 
chapter of the Kur-an) to the end of the words " supplieth • them 
with food against hunger," and to repeat these last words three 
times. This, I was assured, would be a certain preventive of any 
harm that I might have feared. 

There are various things which are regarded in the same iiglit 
as written charms — such as dust from the tomb of the Pi'ophet, 
water from the sacred well of Zemzem in the Temple of Mekkeh, 
and pieces of the black brocade covering of the Kaabeh.-^ The 
water of Zemzem is much valued for the purpose of sprinkling 
upon grave-clothes. An Arab to whom I had given some medicine 
which had been beneficial to him, in the Sa'eed, during my former 
visit to this country, heard me inquire for some Zemzem water 
(as several boats full of pilgrims on their return from Mekkeh 
were coming down the Nile), and perhaps thought, from my 
making this inquiry, that I was a pious Muslim : accordingly, to 
show his gratitude to me, he gave me what I was seeking to 
obtain. Having gone to the house of a friend, he returned to 
my boat, bringing a small bundle, which he opened before me. 
"Here," said he, "are some things which I know you will value 
highly. Here are two tin fiasks of the water of Zemzem : one of 
them you shall have ; you may keep it to sprinkle your grave- 


clotliiiig with it. This is a ' miswak ' (a tooth-stick) clipped in the 
water of Zemzem ; accept it from me. Clean your teeth with 
it, and they will never ache nor decay. And here," he added 
(showing me three small oblong and flat cakes of a kind of ' 
grayish earth, each about an inch in length, and stamped with 
Arabic characters, "In the name of. God! Dust of our land 
[mixed] with the saliva of some of us "), " these are composed of 
earth from over the grave of the Prophet (God favour and preserve 
him !). I purchased them myself in the noble tomb, on my return 
from the pilgrimage. One of them I give to you — you will find 
it a cure for every disease ; the second I shall keep for myself ; 
the third we will eat together." Upon this he broke in halves 
one of the three cakes ; and we each ate our share. I agreed 
with him (though I had read the inscription) that it was delicious ; 
and I gladly accepted his presents. I was afterwards enabled to 
make several additions to my Mekkeh curiosities, comprising a 
piece of the covering of the Kaabeh, brought from Mekkeh by 
the sheykh Ibraheem (Burckhardt), and given to me by his legatee 
Osman. A cake composed of dust from the Prophet's tomb is 
sometimes sewed up in a leather case and worn as an amulet. 
It is also formed into lumps of the shape and size of a small pear, 
and hung to the railing or screen which surrounds the monument 
over the grave of a saint, or to the monument itself, or to the 
windows or door of the apartment which contains it. 

So numerous are the charms which the Egyptians employ to 
insure good fortune, or to prevent or remove evils of every kind, 
and so various are the superstitious practices to which they have 
recourse with these views, that a large volume would scarcely 
suffice to describe them in detail. These modes of endeavouring 
to obtain good and to avoid or dispel evil, when they are not 
founded upon religion or magic or astrology, are termed matters 
of " 'ilm er-rukkeh," or the science of the distaff (that is, of the 
women) ; which designation is given to imply their absurdity, and 
because women are the persons wlio most confide in them. This 
term is considered by some as a vulgar corruption of " 'ilm 
er-rukyeh," or " the science of enchantment ; " by others it is 
supposed to be substituted for the latter term by way of a 
pun. Some practices of the nature just described have already 


been incidentally mentioned ; I shall only give a few other 

It is a very common custom in Cairo to hang an aloe plant 
over the door of a house, particularly over that of a new house, 
or over a door newly built ; and this is regarded as a charm to 
insure long and flourishing lives to the inmates, and long con- 
tinuance to the house itself. The women also believe that the 
Prophet visits the house where this plant is suspended. The aloe, 
thus hung without earth or water, will live for several years, and 
even blossom. Hence it is called "sabi%" which signifies "patience." 

When any evil is apprehended from a person, it is customary 
to break a piece of pottery behind his back. This is also done 
with the view of preventing further intercourse with such a person. 

As ophthalmia is very prevalent in Egypt, the ignorant people 
of this country resort to many ridiculous practices of a super- 
stitious nature for its cure. Some for this purpose take a piece 
of dried mud from the bank of the Nile at or near Boolak, the 
principal port of Cairo, and crossing the river deposit it on the 
opposite bank, at Imbabeh. This is considered sufficient to insure 
a cure. Others, with the same view, hang to the head-dress, over 
the forehead or over the diseased eye, a Venetian sequin ; but 
it must be one of a particular description, in which the figures on 
each side correspond, head to head and feet to feet. Yet if a 
person having a Venetian sequin or a dollar in his pocket enter 
the room of one who is suffering from ophthalmia or fever, his 
presence is thought to aggravate the complaint. It is also a 
general belief here that if an individual in a state of religious 
uncleanness enter a room in which is a person afflicted with 
ophthalmia, the patient's disease will consequently be aggravated, 
and that a speck will appear in one or each of his eyes. A man 
with whom I am acquainted has, at the time I write this, just 
come out of a room in which he had confined himself, while 
suffering from ophthalmia, for about three months, from this fear ; 
never allowing any person to enter — his servant always placing 
his food outside the door. He has, however, come out with a 
speck in one of his eyes. 

Another practice, which is often adopted in similar cases, but 
mostly by women, and frequently with the view of preventing 


barrenness, is very singular and disgusting. The large open place 
called the Rumeyleh, on the west of the citadel of Cairo, is a 
common scene of the execution of criminals ; and- the decapitation 
of persons convicted of capital offences in the metropolis was 
formerly almost always performed there rather than in any other 
part of the town. On the south of this place is a building called 
" Maghsil es-Sultan," or the Sultan's washing-place for the dead, 
where is a table of stone, upon which the body of every person 
who is decajjitated is washed, previously to its burial, and there 
is a trough to receive the water, which is never poured out, but 
remains tainted with the blood, and fetid. Many a woman goes 
thither, and for the cure of ophthalmia, or to obtain oflspring, 
or to expedite delivery in the case of a protracted pregnancy, 
without speaking (for silence is deemed absolutely necessary), 
jjasses under the stone table above mentioned, with the left foot 
foremost, and then over it ; and does this seven times ; after 
which she washes her face with the polluted water that is in the 
trough, and gives five or ten faddahs to an old man and his wife 
who keep the place ; then goes away, still without speaking. 
Men, in the case of ophthalmia, often do the same. The IVIaghsil 
is said to have been built by the famous Beybars before he be- 
came Sultan, in consequence of his observing that the remains of 
persons decapitated in Cairo were often kicked about, and buried 
without being previously washed. 

Some women step over the body of a decapitated man seven 
times, without speaking, to become pregnant ; and some, with the 
same desire, dip in the blood a piece of cotton wool, of which they 
afterwards make vise in a manner I must decline mentioning. 

A ridiculous ceremony is practised for the cure of a pimple on 
the edge of the eyelid, or what we commonly call a " stye," and 
which is termed in Egypt " shahhateh," a word which literally 
signifies "a female beggar." The person affected with it goes to 
any seven women of the name of Fat'meh, in seven difterent 
houses, and begs from each of them a morsel of bread ; these 
seven morsels constitute the remedy. Sometimes, in a similar 
case, and for the same purpose, a person goes out before sunrise, 
and without speaking walks round several tombs from right to 
left, which is the reverse of the regular course made in visiting 


tombs. Another supposed mode of cure in a case of the same 
kind is to bind a bit of cotton on the exid of a stick, then to dip 
it in one of the troughs out of which the dogs drink in the streets 
of Cairo, and to wipe the eye with it. The patient is thus careful 
to preserve his hand from the polluted water -when he is about 
to apply this to another part of his person. 

As an imaginary cure for ague, some of the women of Egyj^t 
(I mean those of the Muslim faith) hang to their necks the finger 
of a Christian or Jew, cut off a corpse and dried. This and 
other practices mentioned before are striking proofs of the de- 
grading effects of superstition, and of its powerful influence over 
the mind ; for in general the ]Muslims are scrupulously careful 
to conform with that precept of their religion which requir-es them 
to abstain from everything polluting or unclean. 

When a child is unable to walk after having attained the age 
when it is usual to begin to do so, it is a common custom for the 
mother to bind its feet together with a palm leaf tied in three 
knots, and to place it at the door of a mosque during the period 
when the congregation are engaged in performing the Friday prayers. 
When the prayers are ended, she asks the first, second, and third 
persons who come out of the mosque to untie each a knot of the 
palm leaf ; and then carries the child home, confident that this 
ceremony will soon have the effect of enabling the little one to walk. 

There are several pretended antidotes for poison, and remedies 
for certain diseases, to which the Egyptians often have recourse, 
and which may perhaps have some efficacy ; but superstition 
attributes to them incredible virtues. The bezoai'-stone is used 
as an antidote for poison, by rubbing it in a cup with a little 
water \ the cup is then filled with water, which the patient drinks. 
In the same manner, and for the same purpose, a cup made of 
the horn of the rhinoceros is used ; a piece of the same material 
(the horn) is rubbed in it. As a cure for the jaundice, many 
persons in Cairo drink the water of a Avell in this city, called 
" beer el-yarakan," or " the Avell of the jaundice." It is the 
property of an old woman, who reaps considerable advantage 
from it; for it has two mouths, under one of which is a dry 
receptacle for anything that may be thrown down, and the old 
woman desires the persons who come to use the medicinal water 



to drop through this movath whatever she happens to be in need 
of — as sugar, coffee, etc. 

The Muslims have recourse to many supei'stitious practices to 
determine them when they are in doubt as to any action which 
they contemplate — whether they sliall do it or not. Some apply 
for an answer to a table called a "zairgeh." There is a table 
of this kind ascribed to Idrees, or Enoch. It is divided into a 
hundred little squares, in each of whidi is written some Arabic 
letter. The person who consults it repeats three times the open- 
ing chapter of the Kur-an, and the 59th verse of the Soorat el- 
An'am (or 6th chapter) — " With Him are the keys of the secret 
things : none knoweth them but he : and he knoweth whatever 
is on the land and [what is] in the sea : and there falleth not a 
leaf but he knoweth it, nor a grain in the dark parts of the earth, 
nor a moist thing nor a dry thing, but [it is noted] in a distinct 
writing." Having done this, without looking directly at the table, 
he places his finger upon it ; he then looks to see upon what letter 
his finger is placed, writes that letter, the fifth following it, the fifth 
following this, and so on, until he comes again to the first which 
he wrote ; and these letters together compose the answer. The 
construction of the table may be shown by translating it, thus — 





























































































For an example, suppose the finger to be placed on the letter e 
in the sixth line : we take from the table the letters enjoypeace 
abstainand, which compose this sentence — " Abstain, and 
enjoy peace;" the sentence always commencing with the first of 
the letters taken from the uppermost line. It will be seen that 
the table gives only five answers; and that, if we proceed as 
above directed, we must obtain one of these answers with what- 
ever letter of the table we commence. It will also be observed 
that the framer of the table, knowing that men very frequently 
wish to do what is wrong, and seldom to do what is right, and 
that it is generally safer for them to abstain when in doubt, has 
given but one affirmative answer and four negative. 

Some persons have recourse to the Kur-an for an answer to 
their doubts. This they call making an " istikharah," or appli- 
cation for the favour of Heaven, or for direction in the right 
course. Repeating three times the opening chapter, the 112th 
chapter, and the verse above quoted, they let the book fall open, 
or open it at random, and from the seventh line of the right-hand 
page draw their answer. The words often will not convey a 
direct answer, but are taken as affirmative or negative according 
as their general tenor is good or bad— promising a blessing or 
denouncing a threat, etc. Instead of reading the seventh line 
of this page, some count the number of the letters " kha " and 
" sheen " which occur in the whole page, and if the " khas " pre- 
dominate, the inference is favourable : " kha " represents " kheyr," 
or " good ;" " sheen," " sharr," or " evil." 

There is another mode of istikharah, which is to take hold 
of any two points of a " sebhah " (or rosary), after reciting the 
Fat'hah three times, and then to count the beads between these 
two points, saying, in passing the first bead through the fingers, 
"[I extol] the perfection of God;" in passing the second, 
"Praise be to God;" in passing the third, "There is no deity 
but God;" and repeating these expressions in the same order to 
the last bead. If the first expression fall to the last bead, the 
answer is affirmative and favourable ; if the second, indifferent ; 
if the last, negative. This is practised by many persons. 

Some, again, in .similar cases, on lying down to sleep at night, 
beg of God to direct them by a dream ; by causing them to see 


something white or green, or water, if the action which they con- 
template be approved, or if they are to expect approaching good 
fortune ; and if not, by causing them to see something black or 
red, or fire. They then recite the Fat'hah ten times, and continue 
to repeat these words, "O God, favour our lord Mohammad!" 
until they fall asleep. 

The Egyptians place great faith in dreams, which often direct 
them in some of the most important actions of life. They have 
two large and celebrated works on the interpretation of dreams, 
by Ibn-Shaheen and Ibn-Seereen, the latter of whom was the 
pupil of the former. These books are consulted, even by many 
of the learned, with implicit confidence. When one person says 
to another, " I have seen a dream," the latter usually replies, 
" Good " (that is, may it be of good omen), or, " Good, please 
God." When a person has had an evil dream, it is customary for 
him to say, "O God, favour our lord Mohammad!" and to spit 
over his left slioulder three times, to prevent an evil result. 

In Egypt, as in most other countries, supei'stitions are enter- 
tained respecting days of the week, some being considered for- 
tunate and others unfortunate. The Egyptians regard Sunday 
as an unfortunate day, on account of the night which follows 
it. This night, which (according to the system already men- 
tioned) is called the night of Monday, the learned Muslims, and 
many of the inferior classes, consider unfortunate, because it was 
that of the death of their Prophet ; but some regard it as for- 
tunate, particularly for the consummation of marriage, though 
not so auspicious for this affair as the eve of Friday. The day 
following it is also considered by some as fortunate, and by 
others as unfortunate. Tuesday is generally thought unfortihnate, 
and called " the day of blood," as it is said that several eminent 
martyrs were put to death on this day ; and hence, also, it is 
commonly esteemed a proper day for being bled. Wednesday is 
regarded as indifferent. Thursday is called " el-mubarak " (or 
the blessed), and is considered fortunate, particularly dei-iving 
a blessing from the following night and day. The eve or night 
of Friday is very fortunate, especially for the consummation of 
marriage. Friday is blessed above all other days as being the 
Sabbath of the Muslims. It is called " el-fadeeleh " (or the 


excellent). Saturday is the most unfortunate of days. It is 
considered veiy wrong to commence a journey, and, by most 
people in Egypt, to shave, or cut the nails, on this day. A friend 
of mine here was doubting whether he should bring an action 
against two persons on so unfortunate a day as Saturday. He 
decided at last that it was the best day of the week for him to 
do this, as the ill fortune must fall upon one of the two parties 
only, and doubtless upon his adversaries, because they were two 
to one. There are some days of the year which are esteemed 
very fortunate — as those of the two grand festivals, etc.; and 
some which are regarded as unfortunate — as, for instance, the 
last Wednesday in the month of Safar, when many persons make a 
point of not going out of their houses, fi'om the belief that numer- 
ous afflictions fall upon mankind on that day. Some persons 
draw lucky or unlucky omens from the first object they see on 
going out of the house in the morning ; according as that object is 
pleasant or the reverse, they say, " Our morning is good " or " — 
bad." A one-eyed person is regarded as of evil omen, and espe- 
cially one who is blind of the left eye. 



If we might believe some stories Avhich are commonly related in 
Egypt, it would appear that in modern days there have been, in 
this country, magicians not less skilful than Pharaoh's " wise men 
and sorcerers," of Avhom we read in the Bible. 

The more intelligent of the Muslims distinguish two kinds of 
magic, which they term " Er-Roohanee " {mdgo, " Rowhanee ") 
and " Es-Seemiya." The former is spiritual magic, which is be- 
lieved to effect its wonders by the agency of angels and genii, and 
by the mysterious virtues of certain names of God and other 
supernatural means; the latter is natural and deceptive magic, 
and its chief agents the less credulous Muslims believe to be cer- 
tain perfumes and drugs, which affect the vision and imagination 
nearly in the same manner as opium. This drug, indeed, is sup- 


posed by some persons to be eraiDloyed in tlie operations of the 
latter branch of magic. 

" Er-Roohanee," which is universally considered among the 
Egyptians as true magic, is of two kinds—" 'ilwee " (or high) and 
" suflee " (or low), which are also called " rahmanee " (or divine, 
or literally relating to " the Compassionate," which is an epithet 
of God) and •' sheytanee " (or satanic). The 'ilwee, or rahmanee, 
is said to be a science founded on the agency of God, and of his 
angels and good genii, and on other lawful mysteries, to be always 
employed for good purposes, and only attained and practised by 
men of probity, who, by tradition or from books, learn the names 
of those superhuman agents and invocations which insure com- 
pliance with their desires. The writing of charms for good 
purposes belongs to this branch of magic and to astrology, and 
to the science of the mysteries of numbers. The highest attain- 
ment in divine magic consists in the knowledge of the " Ism el- 
Aazam." This is "the most great name" of God, which is 
generally believed by the learned to be known to none but 
prophets and apostles of God. A person acquainted with it can, 
it is said, by merely uttering it, raise the dead to life, kill the 
living, transport himself instantly wherever he pleases, and per- 
form any other mii-acle. Some suppose it to be known to eminent 
welees. The suflee is believed to depend on tlie agency of the 
devil and other evil genii, and to be used for bad purposes and by 
bad men. To this branch belongs the science called by the Arabs 
" es-sehr," which is a term they give only to wicked encliantment. 
Those who perform what is called " darb el-mendel " (of which I 
propose to relate some examples) profess to do it by the agency of 
genii — that is, by the science called er-roohanee ; but there is 
another opinion on this subject which will be presently mentioned. 
One of the means by which genii are believed to assist magicians 
has been explained in the second paragraph of Chapter X. 

" Es-Seemiya " is generally pronounced by the learned to be a 
false science and deceptive art, which produces surprising effects 
by those natural means which have been above mentioned ; and 
the "darb el-mendel," as perfumes are employed in the performance 
of it, is considered by such persons as pertaining to es-seeraiya. 

" Tim en-Nugoom," or Astrology, is studied by many persons 

(440) 18 


in Egypt. It is chiefly employed in casting nativities, in deter- 
mining fortunate periods, etc., and very commonly to divine by 
what sign of the zodiac a person is influenced ; which is usually 
done by a calculation founded upon the numerical values of the 
letters composing his or her name and that of the mother. This 
is often done in the case of two persons who contemplate becom- 
ing man and wife, with the view of ascertaining whether they will 
agree. The science called " darb er-ramal," or geomancy, by 
which, from certain marks made at random on paper, oi- on sand 
(whence, according to some, its name), the professors pretend to 
discover past, passing, and future events, is, T am informed, mainly 
founded on astrology. 

" El-Keemiya," or Alchemy, is also studied by many persons 
in Egypt, and by some possessed of talents by which they might 
obtain a better reputation than this pursuit procures them, and 
who, in spite of the derision which they experience from a few 
men of sounder minds, and the reproaches of those whom they 
unintentionally make their dupe.s, continue to old age their fruitless 
labours. Considerable knowledge of chemistry is, however, some- 
times acquired in the study of this false science ; and in the present 
degraded state of physical knowledge in this country it rather evinces 
a superior mind when a person gives his attention to alchemy. 

There is, or was, a native of Egypt very highly celebrated for 
his performances in the higher kind of that branch of magic called 
er-roohanee — the sheykh Isma'eel Aboo-Ru-oos, of the town of 
Dasook. Even the more learned and sober of the people of 
this country relate most incredible stories of his magical skill, for 
which some of them account by asserting his having been married 
to a " ginneeyeh " (or female ginnee); and othei's, merely by his 
having " ginn " at his service, whom he could mentally consult 
and command, without making use of any such charm as the lamp 
of 'Ala-ed-Deen. He is said to have alwa^^s employed this super- 
natural power either for good or innocent purposes, and to have 
been much favoured by the present Basha, who, some say, often 
consulted him. One of the most sensible of my Muslim friends in 
this place (Cairo) informs me that he once visited Aboo-Ru-oos 
at Dasook, in company with the sheykh El-Emeer, son of the 
sheykh El-Emeer El-Kebeer, sheykh of the sect of the Malikees. 


]My friend's companion asked theiv Lost to show them some proof of 
his skill in magic, and the latter complied with the request. " Let 
coffee be served to us," said the sheykh El-Emeer, "in my father's 
set of fingans and zarfs, which are in Masr." They waited a few 
minutes, and then the coffee was brought ; and the sheykh El- 
Emeer looked at the fingans and zarfs, and said they were certainly 
his father's. He was next treated with sherbet, in what he declared 
himself satisfied were his father's kuUehs. He then wrote a letter 
to his father, and giving it to Aboo-Ru-oos, asked him to procure 
an answer to it. The magician took the letter, placed it behind a 
cushion of his deewan, and a few minutes after, removing the cushion, 
showed him that this letter was gone, and that another was in its 
place. The sheykh El-Emeer took the latter, opened and read it, 
and found in it, in a handwriting which he said he could have 
sworn to be that of his father, a complete answer to what he had 
written, and an account of the state of his family which he proved, 
on his return to Cairo a few days after, to be perfectly true. 

A curious case of magic fell under the cognizance of the 
government during my former visit to this countiy, and became 
a subject of general talk and wonder throughout the metropolis. 
T shall give the story of this occurrence precisely as it was related 
to me by several persons in Cairo, without curtailing it of any of 
the exaggei'ations with which they embellished it, not only because 
I am ignorant how far it is true, but because I would show how 
great a degree of faith the Egyptians in general place in magic, or 

Mustafa Ed-Digwee, chief secretary in the Kadee's court in 
this city, was dismissed from his office, and succeeded by another 
person of the name of Mustafa, who had been a seyrefee, or 
money-changer. The former sent a petition to the Basha, begging 
to be reinstated ; but before he received an answer, he was 
attacked by a severe illness, which he believed to be the effect of 
enchantment. He persuaded himself that Mustafa the seyrefee 
had employed a magician to write a spell which should cause him 
to die, and therefore sent a second time to the Basha, charging 
the new secretary with this crime. The accused was brought 
before the Basha, confessed that he had done so, and named the 
magician whom he had employed. The latter was arrested, and 


not being able to deny the charge brought against him, was 
thrown into prison, there to remain until it should be seen whether 
or not Ed-Digwee would die. He was locked up in a small cell, 
and two soldiers were placed at the door, that one of them might 
keep watch while the other slept. Now for the marvellous part 
of the story. At night, after one of the guards had fallen asleep, 
the other heard a strange, murmuring noise, and looking through 
a crack of the door of the cell, saw the magician sitting in the 
middle of the floor, muttering some words which he (the guard) 
could not understand. Presently the candle which was before 
him became extinguished, and at the same instant four other 
candles appeared, one in each corner of the cell. The magician 
then rose, and standing on one side of the cell, knocked his 
forehead three times against the wall ; and each time that he did 
so the wall opened, and a man appeared to come forth from it. 
After the magician had conversed for some minutes with the three 
personages whom he thus produced, they disappeared, as did also 
the four candles, and the candle that was in the midst of the cell 
became lighted again as at first. The magician then resumed his 
position on the floor, and all was quiet. Thus the spell that was 
to have killed Ed-Digwee was dissolved. Early the next morning, 
the invalid felt himself so much better that he called for a basin 
and ewer, performed the ablution, and said his prayers ; and from 
that time he rapidly recovered. He was restored to his former 
office, and the magician was banished from Egypt. Another en- 
chanter (or " sahhar ") was banished a few days after, for writing 
a charm which caused a Muslim'eh girl to be affected with an 
irresistible love for a Copt Christian. 

A few days after my first arrival in this country, my curiosity 
was excited on the subject of magic by a circumstance related to 
me by Mr. Salt, our consul-general. Having had reason to believe 
that one of his servants was a thief, from the fact of several 
articles of property having been stolen from his house, he sent for 
a celebrated Maghrab'ee magician, with the view of intimidating 
them, and causing the guilty one (if any of them were guilty) to 
confess his crime. The magician came, and said that he would 
cause the exact image of the person who had committed the thefts 
to appear to any youth not arrived at the age of puberty, and 


desired the master of the house to call in any boy whom he might 
choose. As several boys were then employed in a garden adjacent 
to the house, one of them was called for this purpose. In the palm 
of this boy's right hand the magician drew with a pen a certain 
diagram, in the centre of which he poured a little ink. Into this 
ink he desired the boy steadfastly to look. He then burned some 
incense, and several bits of j^aper inscribed with charms, and at the 
same time called for various objects to appear in the ink. The boy 
declared that he saw all these objects, and, last of all, the image of 
the guilty person. He described his stature, countenance, and 
dress, said that he knew him, and directly ran down into the 
garden and apprehended one of the labourers, who, Avhen brought 
before the master, immediately confessed that he was the thief. 

The above relation made me desirous of witnessing a similar 
performance during my first visit to this country ; but not being 
acquainted with the name of the magician here alluded to, or his 
place of abode, I was unable to obtain any tidings of him. I 
learned, however, soon after my return to England, that he had 
become known to later travellers in Egypt, was residing in Cairo, 
and that he was called the sheykh 'Abd-El-Kadir El-Maghrab'ee. 
A few weeks after my second arrival in Egypt, my neighbour 
'Osman, interpreter of the British consulate, brought him to me ; 
and I fixed a day for his visiting me, to give me a jDroof of the 
skill for which he is so much famed. He came at the time 
appointed, about two houi's before noon, but seemed uneasy, 
frequently looking up at the sky through the window, and re- 
marked that the weather was unpropitious : it was dull and 
cloudy, and the wind was boisterous. The experiment was per- 
formed with three boys, one after another. With the first it was 
partly successful, but with the others it completely failed. The 
magician said that he could do nothing more that day, and that he 
would come in the evening of a subsequent day. He kept his 
appointment, and admitted that the time was favourable. While 
waiting for my neighbour before mentioned to come and witness 
the performances, we took pipes and coffee, and the magician 
chatted with me on indifferent subjects. He is a fine, tall, and 
stout man, of a rather fair complexion, with a dark-brown beard • 
is shabbily dressed, and generally wears a large-green turban, being 


a descendant of the Prophet. In his conversation he is affable 
and unaffected. He professed to me that his wonders were effected 
by the agency of (jood spirits, but to others he has said the re- 
verse — that his magic is satanic. 

In preparing for the experiment of the magic mirror of ink, 
which, like some other performances of a similar nature, is here 
termed " darb el-mendel," the magician first asked me for a reed- 
pen and ink, a piece of paper, and a pair of scissors ; and having 
cut off a narrow strip of paper, wrote upon it certain forms of 
invocation, together with another charm, by which he professes 
to accomplish the object of the experiment. He did not attempt 
to conceal these ; and on my asking him to give me copies of them, 
he readily consented, and immediately wrote them for me, explain- 
ing to me, at the same time, that the object he had in view was 
accomplished through the influence of the two first words, " Tar- 
shun " and " Taryooshun," which he said were the names of two 
genii, his "familiar spirits." I compared the copies with the 
originals, and found that they exactly agreed. Facsimiles of them 
are here inserted, with a translation. 




" Tarshun ! Taryooshun ! Come down ! 
Come down ! Be present ! Whither are gone 
the prince and his troops ? ^Vliere are El-Ahmar 
the j)rince and his troops ? Be present 
ye servants of these names ] " 

" And this is the removal. * And we have removed from thee 
thy veil ; and thj' sight to-day 
is piercing. ' Correct : correct. " 

Having written these, the magician cut off the paper containing 
the forms of invocation from that upon which the other charm was 
written, and cut the former into six strips. He then explained to 
me that the object of the latter charm (which contains part of the 
21st verse of the Soorat Kaf, or 50th chapter of the Kur-an) was 
to open the boy's eyes in a supernatural manner — to make his 
sight pierce into what is to us the invisible world. 

I had prepared, by the magician's direction, some frankincense 
and coriander-seed, and a chafing-dish with some live charcoal in 
it. These were now brought 
into the room, together with 
tlie boy who was to be em- 
ployed. He had been called 
in, by my desire, from among 
some boys in the street, re- 
turning from a manufactory, 
and was about eight or nine 
years of age. In reply to 
my inquiry respecting the 
description of persons who 
could see in the magic mir- 
ror of ink, the magician said 
that they were a boy not 
ai'rived at puberty, a vir- 
gin, a black female slave, 
and a pregnant woman. 
The chafing-dish was placed before him and the boy, and the latter 
was- placed on a seat. The magician now desired my servant to 
put some frankincense and coriander-seed into the chafing-dish ; 
then taking hold of the boy's right hand, he drew in the palm of 
it a magic square, of which a copy is here given. ^- The figures 



which it contains are Arabic numerals. In the centre he poured 
a little ink, and desired the boy to look into it, and tell him if he 
could see his face reflected in it. The boy replied that he saw his 
face clearly. The magician, holding the boy's hand all the while, 
told him to continue looking intently into the ink, and not to I'aise 
his head. 

He then took one of the little strips of paj^er inscribed with 
the forms of invocation, and dropped it into the chafing-dish, upon 
the burning coals and perfumes, which had already filled the room 
with their smoke : and as he did this he commenced an indistinct 
muttering of words, which he continued during the whole process, 
excepting when he had to ask the boy a question, or to tell him 
what he was to say. The piece of paper containing the words 
from the Kur-an he placed inside the fore part of the boy's 
takeeyeh, or skull-cap. He then asked him if he saw anything in 
the ink, and was answered, " No ; " but about a minute after, the 
boy, trembling and seeming much frightened, said, "I see a man 
sweeping the ground." " \Ylien he has done sweeping," said the 
magician, "tell me." Presently the boy said, "He has done." 
The magician then again interrupted his muttering to ask the boy 
if he knew what a " beyrak " (or flag) was ; and being answered 
"Yes," desired him to say, "Bring a flag." The boy did so, and 
soon said, " He has brought a flag." " What colour is if?" asked 
the magician. The boy replied, " Red." He was told to call for 
another flag, which he did ; and soon after he said that he saw 
another bi'ought, and that it was black. In like manner he was 
told to call for a third, fourth, fifth, sixth, and seventh ; which he 
described as being successively brought before him, specifying 
their colours as white, green, black, red, and blue. The magician 
then asked him (as he did also each time that a new flag was 
described as being brought), " How many flags have you now before 
you?" "Seven," answered the boy. While this was going on, 
the magician put the second and third of the small strips of paper 
upon which the forms of invocation were written into the chafing- 
dish ; and fresh frankincense and coriander-seed having been 
repeatedly added, the fumes became painful to the eyes. When 
the boy had described the seven flags as appearing to him, he was 
desired to say, " Bring the Sultan's tent, and pitch it." This he 


did; and in about a minute after, lie said, "Some men have 
brought the tent, a large green tent : they are pitching it ; " and 
presently he added, "They have set it up." "Novv^," said the 
magician, " order the soldiers to come, and to pitch their camp 
around the tent of the Sultan." The boy did as he v^^as desired, 
and immediately said, " I see a great many soldiers, with their 
tents. They have pitched their tents." He was then told to 
order that the soldiers should be drawn up in ranks ; and having 
done so, he presently said that he saw them thus arranged. The 
magician had put the fourth of the little strips of paper into the 
chafing-dish, and soon after he did the same with the fifth. He 
now said, "Tell some of the people to bring a bull." The boy 
gave the order required, and said, " I see a bull — it is I'ed ; four 
men are dragging it along, and three are beating it." He was 
told to desire them to kill it, and cut it up, and to put the meat 
in saucepans, and cook it. He did as he was directed, and 
described these operations as apparently performed before his 
eyes. "Tell the soldiers," said the magician, "to eat it." The 
boy did so, and said, "They are eating it. They have done, and 
are washing their hands." The magician then told him to call for 
the Sultan ; and the boy having done this, said, " I see the 
Sultan riding to his tent on a bay horse, and he has on his head 
a high red cap. He has alighted at his tent, and sat down within 
it." "Desire them to bring coffee to the Sultan," said the 
magician, "and to foi'm the court." These orders were given by 
the boy, and he said that he saw them performed. The magician 
had put the last of the six little strips of paper into the chafing- 
dish. In his mutterings I distinguished nothing but the words of 
the written invocation frequently repeated, excepting on two or 
three occasions, when I heard him say, " If they demand informa- 
tion, inform them ; and be ye veracious." But much that he 
repeated was inaudible, and as I did not ask him to teach me his 
art, I do not pretend to assert that I am fully acquainted with his 

He now addressed himself to me, and asked me if I wished the 
boy to see any person who was absent or dead. I named Lord Nel- 
son, of whom the boy had evidently never heard ; for it was with 
much difficulty that he pronounced the name, after several trials. 


The magician desired the boy to say to the Sultan, "My master 
salutes thee, and desires thee to bring Lord Nelson. Bring him 
before my eyes, that I may see him, speedily." The boy then 
said so, and almost immediately added, " A messenger is gone, 
and has returned, and brought a man dressed in a black suit of 
European clothes. The man has lost his left arm." He then 
jfaused for a moment or two, and looking more intently and more 
closely into the ink, said, " No ; he has not lost his left arm, but 
it is placed to his breast." This correction made his description 
more striking than it had been without it, since Lord Nelson 
generally had his empty sleeve attached to the breast of his 
coat ; but it was the riyld arm that he had lost. Without saying 
that I suspected the boy had made a mistake, I asked the magician 
whether the objects appeared in the ink as if actually before the 
eyes, or as if in a glass, which makes the right appear left. He 
answered that they appeared as in a mirror. This rendered 
the boy's description faultless. 

The next person I called for was a native of Egypt, wlio has 
been for many years resident in England, where he has adopted 
our dress, and who had been long confined to his bed by illness 
before I embarked for this country. I thought that his name, 
one not very uncommon in Egypt, might make the boy describe 
him incorrectly ; though another boy, on the former visit of the 
magician, had described this same person as wearing a European 
dress, like that in which I last saw him. In the present case the 
boy said, " Here is a man brought on a kind of bier, and wrapped 
up in a sheet." This description would suit, supposing the person 
in question to be still confined to his bed, or if he be dead. The 
boy described his face as covei-ed, and was told to order that it 
should be uncovered. This he did, and then said, "His face is 
pale, and he has moustaches but no beard " — which is correct. 

Several other persons were successively called for ; but the 
boy's descriptions of them were imperfect, though not altogether 
incorrect. He represented each object as appearing less distinct 
than the preceding one, as if his sight were gradually becoming 
dim. He was a minute or more before he could give any account 
of the persons he professed to see towards the close of the per- 
formance ; and the magician said it was useless to proceed witli 


him. Another boy was then brought in, and the magic square, 
etc., made in his hand ; but he could see nothing. The magician 
said he was too old. 

Though completely puzzled, I was somewhat disappointed with 
his performances, for they fell short of what he had accomplished, 
in many instances, in presence of certain of my friends and coun- 
trymen. On one of these occasions an Englishman present ridi- 
culed the performance, and said that nothing would satisfy him 
but a correct description of the appearance of his own father, of 
whom, he was sure, no one of the company had any knowledge. 
The boy, accordingly, having called by name for the person alluded 
to, described a man in a Frank dress, with his hand placed to his 
head, wearing spectacles, and with one foot on the ground, and the 
other raised behind him, as if he were stepping down from a seat. 
The desci'iption was exactly true in every respect : the peculiar 
position of the hand was occasioned by an almost constant head- 
ache ; and that of the foot or leg, by a stiff knee, caused by a fall 
from a horse in hunting. I am assured that on this occasion the 
boy accurately described each person and thing that was called for. 
On another occasion, Shakespeare was described with the most 
minute correctness, both as to person and dress ; and I might add 
several other cases in which the same magician has excited as- 
tonishment in the sober minds of Englishmen of my acquaintance. 
A short time since, after pei'forming in the usual manner, by means 
of a boy, he prepared the magic mirror in the hand of a young 
English lady, who, on looking into it for a little while, said that 
she saw a broom sweeping the ground without anybody holding it, 
and was so much frightened that she would look no longer. 

I have stated these facts partly from my own experience and 
partly as they came to my knowledge on the authority of respect- 
able persons. The reader may be tempted to think that in each 
instance the boy saw images produced by some reflection in the 
ink, but this was evidently not the case ; or that he was a con- 
federate, or guided by leading questions. That there was no col- 
lusion I satisfactorily ascertained by selecting the boy who per- 
formed the part above described in my presence from a number 
of others passing by in the street, and by his rejecting a present 
which I afterwards offered him with the view of inducing hiin to 


confess that he did not really see what he had professed to have 
seen. I tried the veracity of another boy on a subsequent occa- 
sion in the same manner, and the result was the same. The ex- 
periment often entirely fails j but when the boy employed is right 
in one case, he generally is so in all. When he gives at first an 
account altogether wrong, the magician usually dismisses him at 
once, saying that he is too old. The perfumes, or excited imagina- 
tion, or fear, may be supposed to affect the visioia of the boy A^■ho 
describes objects as appearing to him in the ink ; but if so, why 
does he see exactly what is required, and objects of which he can 
have had no previous particular notion? Neither I nor others 
have been able to discover any clue by which to penetrate the 
mystery ; and if the reader be alike unable to give the solution, I 
hope that he will not allow the above account to induce in his 
mind any degree of scepticism with respect to other portions of 
this woi-k.^s 


The natural or innate character of the modern Egyptians is 
altered in a remarkable degree by their religion, laws, and gov- 
ernment, as well as by the climate and other causes ; and to form 
a just opinion of it is, therefore, very difficult. We may, how- 
ever, confidently state that they are endowed, in a higlier degree 
than most other people, with some of the more important mental 
qualities, particularly quickness of apprehension, a ready wit, 
and a retentive memory. In youth they generally possess these 
and other intellectual powers, but the causes above alluded to 
gradually lessen their mental energy. 

Of tlie leading features of their character none is more remark- 
able than their religious pride. They regard persons of every 
other faith as the children of perdition ; and such the Muslim is 
early taught to despise.* It is written in the Kur-an, " O ye who 
have believed, take not the Jews and Christians as friends. They 

* I am credibly informed that children in Egypt are often taught at school a regular 
set of curses to denounce upon the persons and property of Christians, Jews, and all other 
unbelievers in the religion of Mohammad. (See Appendix C.) 


are friends one to another, and whosoever of you taketh them as 
his friends, verily he is [one] of them." From motives of polite- 
ness or selfish interest, these people will sometimes talk with appa- 
rent liberality of sentiment, and even make professions of friend- 
ship, to a Christian (particularly to a EurojDean), whom in their 
hearts they contemn. But as the Muslims of Egypt judge of the 
Franks in general from the majority of those in their towns, some 
of whom are outcasts from their native countries, and others 
(though not all the rest, of course) men under no moral restraint, 
they are hardly to be blamed for despising them. The Christians 
are, however, generally treated with civility by the people of 
Egypt, the Muslims being as remarkable for their toleration as 
for their contempt of vinbelievers. 

It is considered the highest honour among the Muslims to be 
religious ; but the desire to appear so leads many into hypocrisy 
and Pharisaical ostentation. When a Muslim is unoccupied by 
business or amusement or conversation, he is often heard to utter 
some pious ejaculation. If a wicked thought, or the remembrance 
of a wicked action that he has committed, trouble him, he sighs 
forth, " I beg forgiveness of God, the Great ! " The shopkeeper, 
when not engaged with customers, nor enjoying his pipe, often 
employs himself, in the sight and hearing of the passengers in the 
street, in reciting a chapter of the Kur-an, or in repeating to him- 
self those expressions in praise of God which often follow the ordi- 
nary prayers, and are counted with the beads ; and in the same 
public manner he prays. The Muslims frequently swear by God 
(but not irreverently), and also by the Prophet, and by the head 
or beard of the person they address. When one is told anything 
that excites his surprise and disbelief, he generally exclaims, 
"Wa-llah?" or "Wa-llahi?" (by God?); and the other replies, 
" Wa-llahi ! " As on ordinary occasions before eating and drinking, 
so also on taking medicine, commencing a writing or any import- 
ant undertaking, and before many a trifling act, it is their habit 
to say, " In the name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful ; " 
and after the act, " Praise be to God." When two persons make 
any considerable bargain, they recite together the first chajiter of 
the Kur-an (the Fat'hah). In case of a debate on any matter of 
business or of opinion, it is common for one of the parties, or a 


third person who may wish to settle the dispute or to cool the 
disputants, to exclaim, "Blessing on the Prophet!" "O God, 
favour him ! " is said in a low voice by the other or others ; and 
they then continue the argument, but generally with moderation. 

Religious ejaculations often interrupt conversation upon trivial 
and even licentious subjects in Egyptian society, sometimes in 
such a manner that a person not well acquainted with the charac- 
ter of this people would perhaps imagine that they intended to 
make religion a jest. In many of their most indecent songs the 
name of God is frequently introduced ; and this is certainly done 
without any profane motive, but from the habit of often mention- 
ing the name of the Deity in vain, and of praising him on every 
trifling occasion of surjirise, or in testimony of admiration of any- 
thing uncommon. Thus, a libertine, describing his impressions on 
the first sight of a charming girl {in one of the grossest songs I 
have ever seen or heard even in the Arabic language), exclaims, 
" Extolled be He who formed thee, O full moon !" And this and 
many similar expressions are common in many other songs and 
odes ; but what is most remarkable in the song particularly alluded 
to above is a profane comparison with which it terminates. I 
shall adduce, as an example of the strange manner in which 
licentiousness and religion are often blended together in vulgar 
Egyptian poetry and rhyming prose, a translation of the last three 
stanzas of an ode on love and wine : — 

" She granted me a reception, the graceful of form, after her distance and 
coyness. I kissed her teeth and her cheek, and the cup rang in her hand. The 
odours of musk and ambergris were diffused by a person whose form siirpassed 
the elegance of a straight and slender branch. She spread a bed of brocade, 
and I passed the time in uninterrupted happiness. A Turkish fawn enslaved me. 

" Now I beg forgiveness of God, my Lord, for all my faults and sins, and 
for all that my heart hath said. My members testify against me. Whenever 
grief oppresseth me, O Lord, thou art my hope from whatever afflicteth me. 
Thon knowest what I say and what I think. Thou art the Bountiful, the For- 
giving ! I implore thy protection ; then pardon me. 

" And I praise that benignant being [the Prophet] whom a cloud was wont to 
shade, the comely ; how great was his comeliness ! He will intercede for us on 
the day of judgment, when his haters, the vile, the polytheists, shall be repentant. 
Would that I might always, as long as I live, accompany the pilgrims, to per- 
form the circuits and worship and courses, and live in uninterrupted happiness ! " 

In translating the first of the above stanzas, I have substituted 
the feminine for the masculine pronoun ; for in the original the 


former is meant, though the latter is used, as is commonly the case 
in similar compositions of the Egyptians. One of my jNIuslim 
friends having just called on me after my ^yriting the above re- 
marks, I read to him the last four stanzas of this ode, and asked 
him if he considered it proper thus to mix up religion with de- 
baucheiy. He answered, " Perfectly proper. A man relates his 
having committed sins, and then prays to God for forgiveness, and 
blesses the Prophet." "But," said I, "this is an ode written to 
be chanted for the amusement of persons who take pleasure in 
unlawful indulgences. And see here, when I close the leaves, the 
page which celebrates a debauch comes in contact, face to face, 
with that upon which are written the names of the Deity. The 
commemoration of the pleasures of sin is placed upon the prayer 
for forgiveness." " That is nonsense," replied my friend : " turn 
the book over, place that side upwards which is now downwards, 
and then the case will be the reverse — sin covered by forgiveness ; 
and God, whose name be exalted, hath said in the Excellent Book, 
' Say, O my servants, who have transgressed against your own 
souls, despair not of the mercy of God, seeing that God forgiveth 
all sins [unto those who repent], for he is the Very Forgiving, the 
Merciful.' " His answer reminds me of what I have often ob- 
served — that the generality of Arabs, a most inconsistent people, 
are every day breaking their law in some point or other, trusting 
that two words (" Astaghfir Allah," or " I beg forgiveness of God ") 
will cancel every transgression. He had a copy of the Kur-an in 
his hand, and on my turning it over to look for the verse he had 
quoted, I found in it a scrap of paper containing some words from 
the venerated volume. He was about to burn this piece of paper, 
lest it should fall out and be trodden upon ; and on my asking 
him whether it was allowable to do so, he answered that it might 
either be burnt or thrown into running water, but that it was 
better to burn it, as the words would ascend in the flames, and be 
conveyed by angels to heaven. Sometimes the Kur-an is quoted 
in jest, even by persons of strict religious principles. For in- 
stance, the following equivocal and evasive answer was once sug- 
gested to me on a person's asking of me a present of a watch, 
which, I must previously mention, is called " sa'ah," a word which 
signifies an " hour," and the " period of the general judgment " — 


" Verily, the ' sti'ah ' shall come : I will surely make it to appear " 
(chap. XX., ver. 15). 

There are often met with in Egyptian society persons who will 
introduce an aj^posite quotation from the Kur-an or the Traditions 
of the Prophet in common conversation, whatever be the topic ; 
and an interruption of this kind is not considered, as it would be 
in general society in our own country, either hypocritical or an- 
noj'ing, but rather occasions expressions, if not feelings, of admira- 
tion, and often diverts the hearers from a trivial subject to matters 
of a more serious nature. The Muslims of Egypt, and I believe 
those of other countries, are generally fond of conversing on re- 
ligion ; and the most prevalent mode of entertaining a party of 
guests among the higher and middle ranks in this place (Cairo) is 
the recital of a khatmeh (or the whole of the Kur-an), which is 
chanted by fikees hired for the purpose ; or the performance of 
a zikr, which has been before mentioned. Few persons among 
them would venture to say that they prefer hearing a concert of 
music to the performance of a khatmeh or zikr, and they certainly 
do take great pleasure in the latter performances. The manner 
in which the Kur-an is sometimes chanted is indeed very pleas- 
ing, though I must say that a complete khatmeh is to me ex- 
tremely tiresome. With the religious zeal of the Muslims I am 
daily struck, yet I have often wondered that they so seldom 
attempt to make converts to their faith. On my expressing my 
surprise, as I have frequently done, at their indifference with re- 
spect to the propagation of their religion, contrasting it with the 
conduct of their ancestors of the early ages of El-Islam, I have 
generally been answered, " Of what use would it be if I could 
convert a thousand infidels? Would it increase the number of the 
faithful ? By no means. The number of the faithful is decreed 
by God, and no act of man can increase or diminish it." The con- 
tending against such an answer would have led to an interminable 
dispute, so I never ventured a reply. I have heard quoted, by 
way of apology for their neglecting to make proselytes, the follow- 
ing words of the Kur-an, " Dispute not against those who have 
reeeived the Scriptures" (namely, the Christians and Jews), with- 
out the words innnediately following — " unless in the best man- 
ner, except against such of them as behave injuriously [towards 


you], and say [unto them], We believe in [the revelation] that 
hath been sent clown unto us, and [also in that] which hath been 
sent down unto you; and our God and your God is one." If this 
precept were acted upon by the Muslims, it might perhaps lead to 
disputes which would make them more liberal-minded and much 
better informed. 

The respect which most modern Muslims pay to their Prophet 
is almost idolatrous. They very frequently swear by him ; and 
many of the most learned, as well as the ignorant, often imploi-e 
his intercession. Pilgrims are generally much more afiected on 
visiting his tomb than in performing any other religious rite. 
There are some Muslims who will not do anything that the 
Prophet is not recorded to have clone, and who particularly abstain 
from eating anything that he did not eat, though its lawfulness be 
undoubted. The Imam Ahmad Ibn-Hambal would not even eat 
water-melons, because, although he knew that the Prophet ate 
them, he could not learn whether he ate them with or without the 
rind, or whether he broke, bit, or cut them ; and he forbade a 
woman, who questioned him as to the propriety of the act, to spin 
by the light of torches passing in the street by night, which were 
not her own property, because the Prophet had not mentioned 
whether it was lawful to do so, and was not known to have ever 
availed himself of a light belonging to another person without that 
person's leave. I once, admiring some very pretty pipe-bowls, 
asked the maker why he did not stamp them witli his name. He 
answered, " God forbid ! My name is Ahmad " (one of the names 
of the Prophet). "Would you have me put it in the fire?" 1 
have heard adduced as one of the subjects of complaint against the 
present Basha, his causing the camels and horses of the govern- 
ment to be branded with his names, " Mohammad 'Alee." " In 
the first place," said a friend of mine, who mentioned this fact to 
me, " the iron upon which are engraved these names, names which 
ought to be so much venerated, the names of the Prophet (God 
favour and preserve him !) and his cousin (may God be well 
pleased with him !), is put into the fire, which is shocking ; then it 
is applied to the neck of a camel, and causes blood which is im- 
pure to flow, and to pollute the sacred names both upon the iron 
and upon the animal's skin. And when the wound is healed, how 

(440) 19 


probable is it, and almost certain and unavoidable, that the camel 
will, when he lies doAvn, lay his neck upon something unclean ! " 

A similar feeling is the chief reason why the Muslims object 
to printing their books. They have scarcely a book (I do not re- 
member to have seen one) that does not contain the name of God. 
It is a rule among them to commence every book with the words, 
" In the name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful," and to 
beo'in the preface or introduction by praising God and blessing 
the Prophet ; and they fear some impurity might be contracted 
by the ink that is applied to the name of the Deity in the process 
of printing, or by the paper to be impressed with that sacred name, 
and perhaps with words taken from the Kur-an. Tliey fear also 
that their books, becoming very cheap by being printed, would fall 
into the hands of infidels ; and are much shocked at the idea of 
using a brush composed of hogs' hair (which was at tirst done 
here) to apply the ink to the name, and often to the words, of God. 
Hence books have hitherto been printed in Egypt only by order 
of the government ; but two or three persons have lately applied 
for and received permission to make use of the government-press. 
I am acquainted with a bookseller here who has long been desirous 
of printing some books which he feels sure would bring him con- 
siderable profit, but cannot overcome his scruples as to the lawful- 
ness of doing so. 

The honour which the Muslims show to the Kur-an is very 
striking. They generally take care never to hold it or suspend it 
in such a manner as that it shall be below the girdle ; and they 
deposit it upon a high and clean place, and never put another book, 
or anything else, on the top of it. On quoting from it, they 
usually say, " He whose name be exalted" (or, "God, whose name 
be exalted") "hath said in the Excellent Book." They consider 
it extremely improper that the sacred volume should be touched 
by a Christian or a Jew, or any other person not a believer in its 
doctrines ; though some of them are induced by covetousness, but 
very rarely, to sell copies of it to such persons. It is even foi'bid- 
den to the Muslim to touch it unless he be in a state of legal purity ; 
and hence these words of the book itself, "None shall touch it 
but they who are purified," are often stamped upon the cover. 
The same remarks apply, also, to anything upon which is inscribed 


a passage of the Kur-an. It is remarkable, however, that most 
of the old Arab coins bear inscriptions of words from the Kur-4n, 
or else the testimony of the faith ("There is no deity but God : 
Mohammad is God's Apostle "), notwithstanding they were in- 
tended for the use of Jews and Christians as well as Muslims ; 
but I have heard this practice severely condemned. On my once 
asking one of my Muslim friends whether figs were esteemed 
wholesome in Egypt, he answered, " Is not the fig celebrated in 
the Kur-an '? God swears by it ; ' By the fig and the olive ! ' " 
(chap, xcv., ver. 1). 

Thei'e is certainly much enthusiastic piety in the character of 
the modern Muslims, notwithstanding their inconsistencies and 
superstitions ; such, at least, is generally the case. There are, I 
believe, very few professed Muslims who are really unbelievers ; 
and these dare not openly declare their unbelief, through fear 
of losing their heads for their apostasy. I have heard of two or 
three such, who have been rendered so by long and intimate 
intercourse with Europeans ; and have met with one materialist, 
who has often had long discussions with me. In preceding 
chapters of this work, several practices indicative of the religious 
feeling which prevails among the Muslims of Egypt have been 
incidentally mentioned. Religious appeals are generally used by 
the beggars in this country ; some examples of these will be 
given hereafter. Of a similar nature, also, are the cries of many 
of the persons who sell vegetables, etc. The cry of the nightly 
watchman in the quarter in which I lived in Cairo during my 
first visit struck me as remarkable for its beauty and sublimity — 
" I extol the perfection of the living King, who sleepeth not nor 
dieth." The present watchman in the same quarter exclaims, 
" O Lord ! O Everlasting ! " Many other illustrations of the re- 
ligious character of the people whom I am endeavouring to 
portray might be added. I must, however, here acknowledge 
that religion has much declined among them and most others of 
the same faith. Whoever has been in the habit of conversing 
familiarly with the modern Muslims must often have heard them 
remark, with a sigh, "It is the end of time !" "The world has 
fallen into infidelity." They are convinced that the present state 
of their religion is a proof that the end of the world is near. 


The mention which I have made in a former chapter of some of 
the tenets of the Wahhabees, as being those of the primitive Mus- 
lims, shows how much the generality of the modern professors of 
the faith of the Kur-an have deviated from the precepts originally 
delivered to its disciples. 

Influenced by their belief in predestination, the men display, 
in times of distressing uncertainty, an exemplary patience, and, 
after any afflicting event, a remarkable degree of resignation and 
fortitude, approaching nearly to apathy, generally exhibiting 
their sorrow only by a sigh and the exclamation of "Allah 
kereem!" ("God is bountiful!"); but the women, on the contrary, 
give vent to their grief by the most extravagant cries and shrieks. 
While the Christian blames himself for every untoward event 
which he thinks he has brought upon himself or might have 
avoided, the Muslim enjoys a remarkable serenity of mind in all 
the vicissitudes of life. When he sees his end approaching, his 
resignation is still conspicuous ; he exclaims, " Verily to God we 
belong, and verily to him we return ! " and to those who inquire 
respecting his state, in general his reply is, "Praise be to God! 
Our Lord is bountiful ! " His belief in predestination does not, 
however, prevent his taking any step to attain an object that he 
may have in view, not being perfectly absolute or unconditional ; 
nor does it in general make him careless of avoiding danger, for he 
thinks himself forbidden to do so by these words of the Kur-an, 
"Throw not yourselves into perdition," excepting in some cases, 
as in those of pestilence and other sicknesses, being commanded 
by the Prophet not to go into a city where there is a pestilence, 
nor to come out from it. The lawfulness of quarantine is contested 
among Muslims, but the generality of them condemn it. 

The same belief in predestination renders the Muslim utterly 
devoid of presumption with regard to his future actions or to any 
future events. He never speaks of anything that he intends to 
do, or of any circumstance which he expects and hopes may come 
to pass, without adding, " If it be the will of God ; " and in like 
manner, in speaking of a past event of which he is not certain, he 
generally prefaces or concludes what he says with the expression, 
" God is all-knowing " (or " — most knowing "). 

Benevolence and charity to the poor are virtues which the 


Egyptians possess in an eminent degree, and which are instilled 
into their hearts by religion ; but from their own profession it ap- 
pears that they are as much excited to the giving of alms by the 
expectation of enjoying corresponding rewards in heaven as by pity 
for the distresses of their fellow-creatures, or a disinterested wisli 
to do the will of God. It may be attributed, in some measure, to 
the charitable disposition of the inhabitants that beggars are so 
numerous in Cairo. The many handsome "Sebeels," or public 
fountains (buildings erected and endowed for the gratuitous supply 
of water to passengers), which are seen in this city, and the more 
humble structures of the same kind in the villages and fields, are 
monuments of the same virtue. 

In my earlier intercourse with the people of Egypt, I was much 
pleased at observing their humanity to dumb animals ; to see a 
person who gathered together the folds of his loose clothes to 
prevent their coming in contact with a dog, throw to the impure 
animal a portion of the bread which he was eating. Murders, 
burglaries, and other atrocious crimes were then very rare amonw 
them. Now, however; I find the generality of the Egyptians very 
much changed for the worse, with respect to their humanity to 
brutes and to their fellow-creatures. The increased severity of 
the government seems, as might be expected, to have engendered 
tyranny and an increase of every crime in the people ; but I am 
inclined to think that the conduct of Europeans has greatly con- 
duced to produce this effect, for I do not remember to have seen 
acts of cruelty to dumb animals excepting in places where Franks 
either reside or are frequent visitors— as Alexandria, Cairo, and 
Thebes. It is shocking to see the miserable asses which are 
used for carrying dust, etc., in Cairo, many of them with large 
crimson wounds like carbuncles, constantly chafed by rough 
ropes of the fibres of the palm tree which are attached to the 
back part of the pack-saddle. The dogs in the streets are fre- 
quently beaten, both by boys and men, from mere wantonness ; 
and I often see children amusing themselves with molesting the 
cats, which were formerly much favoured. 2^ Eobberies and 
murders, during two or three months after my last arrival here, 
were occurrences of almost every week. Most of the Turkish 
governors of districts used to exercise great oppression over the 


Fellaheen ; but since persons of the latter class have been put in the 
places of the former, they have exceeded their predecessors in 
tyranny, and it is a common remark that they are " more execrable 
than the Turks." 

Though I noAv frequently see the houseless dogs beaten in the 
streets of Cairo, and that when quite inoffensive and quiet, I still 
often observe men feeding them with bread, etc. ; and the persons 
who do so are mostly poor men. In every district of this city are 
many small troughs, which are daily replenished with water for 
the dogs. In each street where there are shops, a sakka receives 
a small monthly sum from each shopman for sprinkling the 
street and filling the trough or troughs for the dogs in that 
street. There is also a dogs' trough under almost every shop of 
a sharbetlee, or seller of sherbets. It may here be mentioned 
that the dogs of Cairo, few of which have masters, compose 
regular and distinct tribes; and the dogs of each tribe confine 
themselves to a certain district or quarter, from which they 
invariably chase away any strange dog that may venture to 
intrude. These animals are very numerous in Cairo. They are 
generally careful to avoid coming in contact with the men, as if 
they knew that the majority of the people of the city regard them 
as unclean ; but they often bark at persons in the Frank dress, 
and at night they annoy every passenger. They are of use in eat- 
ing the offal thrown out from the butchers' shops and from houses. 
Many dogs also prowl about tlie mounds of rubbish around the 
metropolis, and these, with the vultures, feed upon the carcasses of 
the camels, asses, etc., that die in the town. They are mostly of 
a sandy colour, and seem to partake of the form and disposition of 
the jackal. 

The general opinion of the Muslims, which holds the dog to be 
unclean, does not prevent their keeping this animal as a house- 
guard, and sometimes even as a pet. A curious case of this kind 
occurred a short time ago. A woman in this city, who had neither 
husband nor child nor friend to solace her, made a dog her com- 
panion. Death took this only associate from her, and in her grief 
and her affection for it she determined to bury it ; and not merely 
to commit it to the earth without ceremony, but to inter it as a 
Muslim in a respectable tomb in the cemetery of the Imam Esh- 


Shafe'ee, wliich is regarded as especially sacred. She wuslied the 
dog according to the rules prescribed to be observed in the case o£ 
a deceased Muslim, wrapped it in handsome grave-clothes, sent 
for a bier, and jjut it in, then hired sevei'al wailing-women, and 
with them performed a regular lamentation. This done (but 
not without exciting the wonder of her neighbours, who could 
not conjecture what person in her house was dead, yet would not 
intrude, because she never associated with them), she hired a 
number of chanters to head the funeral procession, and schoolboys 
to sing and carry the Kur-an before the bier ; and the train went 
forth in respectable order, herself and the hired wailing-women 
following the bier and rending the air with their shrieks. But the 
procession had not advanced many steps when one of the female 
neighbours ventured to ask the afflicted lady who the person was 
that was dead, and was answered, " It is my poor child." The 
inquirer charged her with uttering a falsehood, and the bereaved 
lady confessed that it was her dog, begging at the same time that 
her inquisitive neighbour would not divulge the secret ; but for 
an Egyptian woman to keep a secret, and such a secret, was im- 
possible. It was immediately made known to the by-standers, 
and a mob, in no good-humour, soon collected and put a stop to 
the funeral. The chanters and singing-boys and wailing-women 
vented their rage against their employer (as soon as they had 
secured their money) for having made fools of them, and if the 
police had not interfered, she would probably have fallen a victim 
to popular fury.-"' 

It is a curious fact that in Cairo houseless cats are fed at the 
expense of the Ivadee, or rather almost wholly at his expense. 
Every afternoon a quantity of offal is brought into the great court 
before the Mahkem'eh, and the cats are called together to eat. 
The tSultan Ez-Zahir Beybars (as I learn from the Bash Katib of 
the Kadee) bequeathed a garden, which is called " gheyt el-kuttah " 
(or the garden of the cat), near his mosque, on the north of 
Cairo, for the benefit of the cats ; but this garden has been 
sold over and over again, by the trustees and purchasers : the 
former sold it on pretence of its being too much out of order to 
be rendered productive, excepting at a considerable expense ; and 
it now produces only a "hekr" (or quit-rent) of fifteen piasters 


a year, to be applied to the maintenance of the destitute cats. 
Almost the whole expense of their support has, in consequence, 
fallen upon the Kadee, who, by reason of his office, is the guardian 
of this and all other charitable and pious legacies, and must 
suffer for the neglect of his jDredecessors. Latterly, however, 
the duty of feeding the cats has been very inadequately per- 
formed. Many persons in Cairo, when they wish to get rid of a 
cat, send or take it to the Kadee's house, and let it loose in the 
great court. 

The affability of the Egy})tians towards each other has been 
mentioned in a preceding chapter. Towards foreigners who do 
not conform with their manners and customs, and profess the 
same way of thinking, they are polite in their address, but cold and 
reserved, or parasitical, in conversation. With such persons, and 
even among themselves, they often betray much impertinent 
curiosity. They are generally extremely afraid of making to 
themselves enemies, and this fear frequently induces them to up- 
hold each other, even when it is criminal to do so. 

Cheerfulness is another remarkable characteristic of this people. 
Some of them profess a great contempt for frivolous amusements, 
but most take pleasure in such pastimes ; and it is surprising to 
see how easily they are amused. Wherever there are crowds, noise, 
and bustle they are delighted. In their public festivals there is 
little to amuse a person of good education ; but the Egyptians 
enjoy them as much as we do the best of our entertainments. 
Those of the lower orders seem to be extremely happy with their 
pipes and coffee, after the occupations of the day, in the society of 
the coffee-shop. 

Hospitality is a virtue for which the natives of the East in 
general are highly and deservedly admired, and the people of 
Egypt are well entitled to commendation on this account. A 
word which signifies literally " a person on a journey " (" musafir") 
is the term most commonly employed in this country in the sense 
of a visitor or guest. There are very few persons here who would 
think of sitting down to a meal, if there were a stranger in the 
house, without inviting him to partake of it, unless the latter were 
a menial, in which case he would be invited to eat with the serv- 
ants. It would be considered a shameful violation of eood 


manners if a Muslim abstained from ordering the table to be 
prepared at the usual time because a visitor happened to. be 
present. Persons of the middle classes in this country, if living in 
a retired situation, sometimes take their supper before the door of 
their house, and invite every passenger of respectable appearance 
to eat with them. This is very commonly done among the lower 
orders. In cities and large towns, claims on hospitality are un- 
frequent, as there are many wekalehs, or khans, where strangers 
may obtain lodging, and food is very easily procured ; but in the 
villages, travellers are often lodged and entertained by the sheykh 
or some other inhabitant, — and if the guest be a person of the 
middle or higher classes, or even not very poor, he gives a present 
to his host's servants, or to the host himself. In the desert, how- 
ever, a present is seldom received from a guest. By a Sunneh law 
a traveller may claim entertainment, of any person able to afford it 
to him, for three days. The account of Abraham's entertaining 
the three angels, related in the Bible, presents a perfect picture of 
the manner in which a modern Bedawee sheykh receives travellers 
arriving at his encampment. He immediately orders his wife or 
women to make bread, slaughters a sheep or some other animal, 
and dresses it in haste ; and bringing milk and any other provisions 
that he may have ready at hand, with the bread and the meat 
which he has dressed, sets them before his guests. If these be per- 
sons of high rank, he stands by them while they eat, as Abraham 
did in the case above alluded to. Most Bedawees will suffer 
almost any injury to themselves or their families rather than allow 
their guests to be ill-treated while under their protection. There 
are Arabs who even regard the chastity of their wives as not too 
precious to be sacrificed for the gratification of their guests, and at 
an encampment of the Bishareen I ascertained that there are many 
persons in this great tribe (which inhabits a large poi'tion of the 
desert between the Nile and the Red Sea) who offer their unmarried 
daughters to their guests, merely from motives of hospitality, and 
not for hire. 

There used to be in Cairo a numerous class of persons called 
" Tufeyleeyeh " or " Tufeylees " (that is. Spongers), who, taking 
advantage of the hospitality of their countrymen, subsisted entirely 
by sponging ; but this class has of late very much decreased in 


number. Wherever there was an entertainment, some of these 
worthies were almost sure to be found, and it was only by a 
present of money that they could be induced to retire from the 
company. They even travelletl about the country without the 
smallest coin in their jjockets, intruding themselves into private 
houses whenever they wanted a meal, or practising various tricks 
for this purpose. Two of them, I was told, a little while since, 
determined to go to the festival of the seyyid El-Bedawee at 
Tanta, an easy journey of two days and a half from Cairo. Walk- 
ing at their leisure, they arrived at the small town of Kalyoob at 
the end of their first day's journey, and there found themselves at 
a loss for a supper. One of them went to the Kadee, and after 
saluting him, said, "O Kadee, I am a traveller from the Sharkeeyeh, 
going to Masr ; and I have a companion who owes me fifty purses, 
which he has with him at present, and refuses to give me, and I 
am actually in want of them." " Where is he ?" said the Kadee. 
" Here, in this town," answered the complainant. The Kadee 
sent a rasool to luring the accused, and in the meantime, expecting 
considerable fees for a judgment in such a case, ordered a good 
supper to be prepared, which Kadees of country towns or villages 
generally do under similar circumstances. The two men were 
invited to sup and sleep before the case was tried. Next morn- 
ing the parties were examined. The accused admitted that he 
had in his possession the fifty purses of his companion, and said 
that he was ready to give them up, for they were an encumbrance 
to him, being only the paper purses in which coffee was sold. 
" We are Tufeylees," he added ; and the Kadee in anger dismissed 

The natives of Egypt in general, in common with the Arabs 
of other countries, are (according to our system of morals) justly 
chargeable with a fault which is regarded by us as one of great 
magnitude : it is want of gratitude. ^^ But this I am inclined to 
consider a relic of the Bedawee character, and as arising from the 
very common practice of hospitality and generosity, and from the 
prevailing opinion that these vii-tues are absolute duties which it 
would be disgraceful and sinful to neglect. 

The temperance and moderation of the Egyptians with regard 
to diet are very exemplary. Since my first arrival in Egypt I 


have scarcely ever seen a native of this country in a state of 
intoxication, unless it were a musician at an entertainment, or a 
dancing-girl, or a low prostitute. It hardly need be added that 
they are extremely frugal. They show a great respect for bread 
as the staff of life, and on no account suffer the smallest portion 
of it to be wasted, if they can avoid it. I have often observed 
an Egyptian take up a small piece of bread whicli had by accident 
fallen in the street or road, and, after- putting it before his lips 
and forehead three times, place it on one side, in order that a dog 
might eat it, rather than let it remain to be trodden under foot. 
The following instance of the excessive and unreasonable respect 
of the Egyptians for bread has been related to me by several 
persons, but I must say that I think it hardly credible : — Two 
servants were sitting at the door of their master's house, eating 
their dinnei', when they observed a Memlook Bey, with several of 
his officers, riding along the street towards them. One of these 
servants rose from respect to the grandee, who, regarding him 
with indignation, exclaimed, " Which is the more worthy of 
respect — the bread that is before you, or myself?" Without 
waiting for a reply, he made, it is said, a well-understood signal 
with his hand, and the unintending offender was beheaded on the 

The higher and middle orders of Muslims in Egypt are scrupu- 
lously cleanly, and the lower orders are more so than in most 
other countries ; but were not cleanliness a point of their religion, 
perhaps it would not be so much regarded by them. From what 
has been said in a former chapter of this work, it appears that 
we must not judge of them with respect to this quality from the 
dirty state in which they generally leave their children. Their 
religious ablutions were certainly very wisely ordained, personal 
cleanliness being so conducive to health in a hot climate. The 
Egyptians in general are particularly careful to avoid whatever 
their religion has pronounced unclean and polluting. One of 
their objections against wine is that it is unclean ; and I believe 
that very few of them, if any, could be induced by any means, 
unless by a considerable bribe, to eat the smallest piece of pig's 
flesh, excepting the peasants of the Boheyreh (the province on 
the west of the western branch of the Nile), many of whom eat 


the flesh of the wild boar and rats. I was once amused with the 
remark of a Muslim on the subject of pork. He observed that 
the Franks were certainly a much-calumniated people ; that it was 
well known they were in the habit of eating swine's flesh, but 
that some slanderous persons here asserted that it was not only 
the flesh of the unclean beast that was eaten by the Franks, but 
also its skin and its entrails and its very blood. On being 
answered that the accusation was too true, he burst forth with 
a most hearty curse upon the infidels, devoting them to the lowest 
place in hell. 

Many of the butchers who supply the Muslim inhabitants of 
the metropolis with meat are Jews. A few years ago, one of the 
principal 'XJlama here complained of this fact to the Basha, and 
begged him to put a stop to it. Another of the 'Ulama, hearing 
that this person had gone to make the complaint above mentioned, 
followed him, and urged before the Basha that the practice was 
not unlawful. " Adduce your proof," said the former. " Here," 
answered the other, "is my pi'oof, from the Word of God: 'Eat 
of that whereon the name of God hath been commemorated.' " 
The chief of the Jewish butchers was then summoned, and asked 
whether he said anything previously to slaughtering an animal. 
He answered, " Yes : we always say as the Muslims, ' In the name 
of God ! God is most great ! ' and we never kill an animal in any 
other way than by cutting its throat." The complaint was con- 
sequently dismissed. 

A few days ago, a man purchasing a fateereh of a baker in this 
city saw him take out of his oven a dish of pork which he had 
been baking for a Frank ; and supposing that the other things in 
the oven might have been in contact with the unclean meat, and 
thus contaminated, immediately brought a soldier from the nearest 
guard-house, and caused the baker (who was in no slight alarm, 
and protested that he was ignorant of there being any pig's flesh 
in his oven) to be conducted before the Zabit. This magistrate 
considered the case of sufficient imjDortance to be referred to the 
Basha's deewan ; and the president of this council regarded it as 
of too serious and difficult a nature for him to decide, and accord- 
ingly sent the accused to be judged at the Mahkem'eh. The 
Kadee desired the opinion of the Muftee, who gave the following 


sentence : That all kinds of food not essentially or radically im- 
pure were purified of any pollution ^Yllicll they might have con- 
tracted by fire, and consequently that whatever thing of this 
description was in the oven, even if it had been in contact with 
the pork, was clean as soon as it had been baked. 

A short time since, the Baslia received from Europe a set of 
mattresses and cushions stufted with horse-hair, to form a deewan 
for his hareem. The ladies opened one of the cushions to ascertain 
what was the substance which rendered them so agreeably elastic, 
and, disgusted in the highest degree at seeing what they supposed 
to be hogs' hair, insisted upon throwing away the whole deewan. 

A Frenchman who was employed here a few years ago to 
refine sugar, by the present Basha, made use of blood for this pur- 
pose ; and since that, very few of the people of this country have 
ventured to eat any sugar made by the Franks. The Basha was 
also obliged to prohibit the use of blood in his own sugar-bakeries, 
and the white of eggs has been employed in its stead. Some of 
the Egyptians, seeing the European sugar to be very superior to 
that made here, use it, holding the doctrine that what is originally 
clean may become clean again after pollution ; but I am obliged 
to keep the coarse Egyptian sugar for the purpose of making 
sherbet for my visitors, some of whom hold long discussions with 
me on this subject. 

It is a general custom among the Egyptians after washing 
clothes to pour clean water upon them, and to say in doing so, 
" I testify that there is no deity but God ; and I testify that 
Mohammad is God's apostle." In speaking of their religion, I 
have mentioned several other practices instituted for the sake of 
cleanliness, most of which are universally observed. But not- 
withstanding these cleanly practices and principles, and their 
custom of frequently going to the bath, the Egyptians do not 
change their linen so often as some people of more northern 
climates, who need not so much to do this frequently. They often 
go to the bath in a dirty shirt, and, after a thorough washing, put 
on the same again. 

Filial piety is one of the more remarkable virtues of this people. 
The outward respect which they pay to their parents I have 
already liad occasion to mention. Great respect is also shown 


by the young to those far advanced in age, particularly to such 
as are reputed men of great piety and learning. (See Lev. xix. 32.) 

Love of their country, and more especially of home, is another 
predominant characteristic of the modern Egyptians. In general, 
they have a great dread of quitting their native land. I have 
heard of several determining to visit a foreign country, for the 
sake of considerable advantages in prospect ; but when the time 
of their intended departure drew near, their resolution failed them. 
Severe oppression has lately lessened this feeling, which is doubt- 
less owing in a great degree to ignorance of foreign lands and 
their inhabitants. It was probably from the same feeling prevail- 
ins; amons; the Arabs of his time that Mohammad was induced to 
promise such high rewards in a future world to those who fled 
their country for the sake of his religion. I have heard it re- 
marked as a proof of the extraordinary love which the Egyjitians 
have for their native place, that a woman or girl in this country 
will seldom consent, or her parents allow her, to marry a man 
who will not promise to reside with her in her native town or 
village ; but I rather think that the reluctance to change the 
place of abode in this case arises from the risk which the female 
incurs of wanting the protection of her relations. The Bedawees 
are so attached to their deserts, and have so great a contempt for 
people who reside in towns and for agriculturists, that it is a 
matter of surprise that so many of them were induced to settle 
even upon the fertile banks of the Nile. The modern Egyptians, 
though mostly descended from Bedawees, while they resemble 
their ancestors in love of their native country, have a horror of 
the desert. One journey in the desex't furnishes them with tales 
of exaggerated hardships, perils, and wonders, which they are 
extremely fond of relating to their less experienced countrymen. 

Indolence pervades all classes of the Egyptians, excepting those 
who are obliged to earn their livelihood by severe manual labour. 
It is the result of the climate, and of the fecundity of the soil. 
Even the mechanics, who are extremely greedy of gain, will gener- 
ally spend two days in a work which they might easily accomplish 
in one, and will leave the most lucrative employment to idle away 
their time with the pipe; but the porter, the groom who runs 
before his master's horse, and the boatmen, who are often employed 


in towing the vessels up the river during calm and very hot 
weather, as well as many other labourers, endure extreme fatigue. 
The Egyptians are also excessively obstinate. I have men- 
tioned in a former chapter that they have been notorious from 
ancient times— that is, from the period of the Roman domination 

for refusing to pay their taxes until they have been severely 

beaten, and that they often boast of the number of stripes which 
they have received before they would part with their money. 
Such conduct is very common among them. I was once told 
that a fellah from whom the value of about four shillings was 
demanded by his governor endured so severe a bastinading rather 
than pay this paltry sum, which he declared he did not possess, 
that the governor ordered him to be dismissed ; but striking him 
on his face as he limped away, there fell out of his mouth a gold 
coin of the exact value of the sum demanded of him, so that his 
beating, terrible as it was, fell short of what was necessary to 
make him pay. This disposition seems a strange peculiarity in 
their character; but it is easily accounted for by the fact that 
they know very well the more readily they pay the more will be 
exacted from them. In other respects, however, they are ex- 
tremely obstinate and difficult to govern, though very obsequious 
in their manners and professions. It is seldom that an Egyptian 
workman can be induced to make a thing exactly to order. He 
will generally follow his own opinion in preference to that of his 
employer, and will scarcely ever finish his work by the time he 
has promised. 

Though very submissive to their governors, the Fellaheen of 
Egypt are not deficient in courage when excited by feuds among 
each other, and they become excellent soldiers. 

In sensuality, as far as it relates to the indulgence of libidinous 
passions, the Egyptians, as well as other natives of hot climates, 
certainly exceed more northern nations ; yet this excess is not to 
be attributed merely to the climate, but more especially to the 
institution of polygamy, to the facility with which divorcements 
are accomplished whenever a man may wish to marry a new wife, 
and to the custom of concubinage. It is even said, and I believe 
with truth, that in this respect they exceed the neighbouring 
nations whose religion and civil institutions are similar \ and that 


their country still deserves the appellation of " the abode of the 
wicked," which in the Kur-an is, according to the best commen- 
tators, applied to ancient Egypt, if we take the word here trans- 
lated "wicked" in its more usual modern sense of "debauchees." 
A vice for which the Memlooks who governed Egypt were in- 
famous was so spread by them in this country as to become not 
less rare here than in almost any other country of the East, but 
of late years it is said to have much decreased. 

The most immodest freedom of conversation is indulged in by 
persons of both sexes and of every station of life in Egypt, even 
by the most virtuous and respectable women, with the exception 
of a very few, who often make use of coarse language but not 
unchaste. From persons of the best education expressions are 
often heard so obscene as only to be fit for a low brothel ; and 
things are named and subjects talked of by the most genteel 
women, without any idea of their being indecorous, in the hearing 
of men, that many prostitutes in our country would abstain from 

The women of Egypt have the character of being the most 
licentious in their feelings of all females who lay any claim to be 
considered as members of a civilized nation, and this character 
is freely bestowed upon them by their countrymen even in con- 
versation with foreigners. Numerous exceptions doubtless exist, 
and I am happy to insert the following words translated from a 
note by my friend the sheykh Mohammad 'Eiyad Et-Tantawee, 
on a passage in "The Thousand and One Nights": — "Many 
persons reckon marrying a second time among the greatest of 
disgraceful actions. This opinion is most common in the country 
towns and villages ; and the relations of my mother are thus 
characterized, so that a woman of them, when her husband dies 
while she is young or divorces her while she is young, passes her 
life, however long it may be, in widowhood, and never marries a 
second time." But with respect to the majority of the Egyptian 
women, it must, I fear, be allowed that they are very licentious. 
What liberty they have, many of them, it is said, abuse; and 
most of them ai^e not considered safe unless under lock and key, 
to which restraint few are subjected. It is believed that they 
possess a degree of cunning in the management of their intrigues 


that the most prudent and careful husband cannot guard against, 
and consequently that their plots are seldom frustrated, how- 
ever great may be the apparent risk of the undertakings in which 
they engage. Sometimes the husband himself is made the un- 
conscious means of gratifying his wife's criminal jaropensities. 
Some of the stories of the intrigues of women in "The Thousand 
and One Nights " present faithful pictures of occurrences not 
unfrequent in the modern metropolis of Egypt. Many of the 
men of this city are of opinion that almost all the women would 
intrigue if they could do so without danger, and that the greater 
proportion of them do. I should be sorry to think that the 
former opinion was just, and I am almost persuaded that it is 
over-severe, because it appeal's, from the customs with regard to 
women generally prevailing here, that the latter must be false. 
The difficulty of carrying on an intrigue with a female in this 
place can hardly be conceived by a person who is not moderately 
well acquainted with Eastern customs and habits. It is not only 
difficult for a woman of the middle or higher classes to admit her 
paramour into the house in which she resides, but it is almost 
impossible for her to have a private interview with a man who 
has a hareem in his own house, or to enter the house of a man 
who is neither married nor has a concubine-slave, without attract- 
ing the notice of the neighbours and causing their immediate 
interference. But as it cannot be denied that many of the 
women of Egypt engage in intrigues notwithstanding such risks, 
it may be supposed that the difficulties which lie in the way are 
the chief bar to most others. Among the females of the lower 
orders intrigues are more easily accomplished and frequent. 

The libidinous character of the generality of the women of 
Egypt, and the licentious conduct of a great number of them, may 
be attributed to many causes — partly to the climate, and partly 
to their want of proper instruction and of innocent pastimes and 
employments ; but it is more to be attributed to the conduct of 
the husbands themselves, and to conduct far more disgraceful 
to them than the utmost severity that any of them is known to 
exercise in the regulations of his hareem. The generality of hus- 
bands in Egypt endeavour to increase the libidinous feelings of 
their wives by every means in their power, though at the same 

(440) ^f) 


time they assiduously study to prevent tlieir indulging those feel- 
ings unlawfully. The women are permitted to listen, screened 
behind their windows of wooden lattice-work, to immoral songs 
and tales sung or related in the streets by men whom they pay 
for this entertainment, and to view the voluptuous dances of the 
ghawazee and of the efieminate khawals. The ghawazee, who are 
professed prostitutes, are not unfrequently introduced into the 
hareems of the wealthy, not merely to entertain the ladies with 
their dances, but to teach them their voluptuous arts ; and even 
indecent puppets are sometimes brought into such hareems for 
the amusement of the inmates. Innumerable stories of the 
artifices and intrigues of the women of Egypt have been related 
to me. Tlie following narratives of late occurrences will serve as 
specimens : — 

A slave -dealer who had been possessed of property which 
enabled him to live in comfort, but had lost the greater part of 
it, married a young and handsome woman in this city who had 
sufficient wealth to make up for his losses. He soon, however, 
neglected her ; and as he was past the pi'ime of life, she became 
indifferent to him, and placed her affections upon another man, 
a dustman, who had been in the habit of coming to her house. 
She purchased for this person a shop close by her house ; gave 
him a sum of money to enable him to pui'sue a less degraded 
occupation as a seller of grain and fodder ; and informed him that 
she had contrived a plan for his visiting her in perfect security. 
Her hareem had a window with hanging shutters, and almost 
close before this window rose a palm tree out-topping the house. 
This tree, she observed, would afford her lover a means of access 
to her, and of egress from her apartment in case of danger. She 
had only one servant, a female, who engaged to assist her in the 
accomplishment of her desires. Previously to her lover's first 
visit to hei', she desired the servant to inform her husband of 
what was about to take place in the ensuing night. He deter- 
mined to keep watch, and having told his wife that he was going 
out and should not return that night, concealed himself in a lower 
apartment. At night the maid came to tell him that the visitor 
was in the hareem. He went up, but found the hareem door shut. 
On his trying to open it his wife screamed, her lover at the same 


time escaping from the window by means of tlie palm tree. She 
called to her neighbours, " Come to my assistance — pray come ! 
there is a robber in my house ! " Several of them soon came ; 
and finding her locked in her room, and her husband outside the 
door, told her there was nobody in the house but her husband and 
maid. She said that tlie man they called her husbaiid was a 
robber; that her husband was gone to sleep out. The latter then 
informed them of what had passed, and insisted that a man was 
with her. He broke open the door and searched the room ; but, 
finding no man, was reprimanded by his neighbours, and abused 
by his wife for uttering a slander. The next day his wife, taking 
with her as witnesses of liis having accused her of a criminal 
intrigue two of the neighbours who had come in on hearing her 
screams for assistance, arraigned her husband at the Mahkem'eh 
as the slanderer of a virtuous woman without the evidence of his 
own sight or of other witnesses. Being convicted of this offence, 
he was punished with eighty stripes, in accordance witli the or 
dinance of the Kur-an. His wife now asked him if he would 
divorce her, but he refused. For three days after this event they 
lived peaceably togethei-. On the third night the wife, having 
invited her lover to visit her, bound her husband hand and foot 
while he was asleep, and tied him down to the mattress. Shortly 
after, her lover came up, and waking the husband, threatened him 
with instant death if he should call, and remained with the wife 
for several hours in his presence. As soon as the intruder had 
gone, the husband was unbound by his wife, and called out to his 
neighbours, beating her at the same time with such violence that 
she also began to call for assistance. The neighbours, coming iii 
and seeing him in a fury, easily believed her assertion that he had 
become raving' mad, and trying to soothe him with kind words 
and prayers that God would restore him to sanity, liberated her 
from his grasp. She procured as soon as possible a rasool from 
the Kadee, and went with him and her husband and several of 
her neighbours who had witnessed the beating that she had re- 
ceived, before the judge. The neighbours unanimously declared 
their opinion that her husband was mad, and the Kadee ordered 
that he should be conveyed to the Maristan (or common mad- 
house) ; but the wife, affecting to pity him, begged that she might 


be allowed to chain him in an apartment in her house, that she 
might alleviate his sufferings by waiting upon him. The Kadee 
assented, praising the benevolence of the woman, and praying that 
God might reward her. She accordingly procured an iron collar 
and a chain from the Maristan, and chained him in a lower apart- 
ment of her house. Every night in his presence her lover visited 
her, after which she importuned him in vain to divorce her ; and 
when the neighbours came in daily to ask how he was, the only 
answer he received to his complaints and accusations against his 
wife was, " God restore thee ! God restore thee ! " Thus he con- 
tinued about a month ; and his wife, finding that he still persisted 
in refusing to divorce her, sent for a keeper of the Maristan to 
take him. The neighbours came round as he left the house. One 
exclaimed, "There is no sti'ength nor power but in God! God 
restore thee ! " Another said, " How sad ! He was really a 
worthy man." A third remarked, " Badingans are very abundant 
just now." While he was confined in the Maristan, his wife came 
daily to him, and asked him if he would divorce her. On his 
answering " No," she said, " Then chained you may lie until you 
die, and my lover shall come to me constantly." At length, after 
seven months' confinement, he consented to divorce her ; upon 
which she procured his liberation, and he fulfilled his promise. 
Her lover was of too low a grade to become her husband, so she 
remained unmarried, and received him whenever she pleased ; but 
the maid revealed the true history of this affair, and it soon 
became a subject of common talk. 

When the wife of a man of wealth or i-ank engages in a crimi- 
nal intrigue, both she and her paramour generally incur great 
danger. Last year the wife of an officer of high rank in the army 
took advantage of the absence of her husband from the metro- 
polis (where he always resided with her when not on military 
duty) to invite a Christian merchant, of whom she had been in 
the habit of buying silks, to pay her a visit. He went to her 
house at the time appointed, and found a eunuch at the door, who 
took him to another house, disguised him in the loose outer gar- 
ments and veil of a lady, and then brought him back, and intro- 
duced him to his mistress. He passed nearly the whole of the 
night with her ; and, rising before she awoke, put into his pocket 


a purse which he had given her, and Avent down to the eunuch, 
who conducted him again to the house where he had put on his 
disguise. Having here resumed his own outer clothes, he repaired 
to his shop. Soon after, the lady, who had missed the purse, came 
and taxed him with having taken it. She told him that she did 
not want money, but only desired his company, and begged him 
to come to her again in the ensuing evening, which he promised 
to do ; but in the afternoon a female servant from the house of 
this lady came to liis shop, and told him that her mistress had 
mixed some jDoison in a bottle of water which she had ordered to 
be given him to drink. This mode of revenge is said to have been 
often adopted when the woman's paramour has given her even a 
slight offence. 

It is seldom that a wife of a Muslim is guilty of a criminal 
intrigue without being punished with death if tliere be four wit- 
nesses to the fact, and they or the husband prosecute her ; and 
not always does she escape this punishment if she be detected by 
any of the officers of justice. In the latter case, four witnesses 
are not required, and often tlie woman, if of a respectable family, 
is put to death, generally in private, on the mere arbitrary 
authority of the government ; but a bribe will sometimes save 
her, for it will always be accepted, if it can with safety. Drown- 
ing is the punishment now almost always inflicted, publicly, upon 
women convicted of adultery in Cairo and other large towns of 
Egypt, instead of that ordained by the law, which is stoning. A 
few months ago a poor woman of this city married a man whose 
trade was that of selling fowls, and while living with him and 
her mother, took three other lodgings, and married three other 
husbands, all of whom were generally absent from the metropolis ; 
so she calculated that when any of these three persons came to 
town for a few days, she might easily find an excuse to go to 
him. They happened, unfortunately for her, to come to town on 
the same day, and all of them went the same evening to inquire 
for her at her mother's house. Being much embarrassed by their 
presence, and her first husband being also with her, slie feigned 
to be ill, and soon to become insensible, and was taken by her 
mother to an inner room. One of the husbands proposed to give 
her something to restore her ; another wished to try a different 


remedy. They began to contend which was the best medicine; and 
one of them said, " I shall give her what I please ; is not she my 
wife ? " " Your wife ! " exclaimed each of the three other hus- 
bands at the same time; "she is my wife." Each proved his 
marriage. The woman was taken to the Mahkem'eh, tried, con- 
demned to death, and thrown into the Xile. — Some time ago, 
when I was before in this country, a similar case occurred: a 
woman married three soldiers of the nizam, or regular troops. 
She was buried in a hole, breast-deep, and then shot. 

A woman may sometimes, but very rarely, trust in palliating 
circumstances, or the support of powerful friends, to save her from 
the penalty of death, in case of her detection in a criminal inter- 
course, as in the following instance : — The Basha, last year, gave 
one of the slaves in his hareem in marriage to a rich slave-mer- 
chant, from whom he had jxirchased many of his Memlooks and 
female slaves. This man was not only unfaithful to her, but 
utterly neglected her ; and she, in consequence, formed an im- 
proper intimacy with a merchant of whom she was a frequent 
customer. One day, when her husband was out, a black slave 
belonging to him happened to see a man's head at a small aperture 
in a window of the hareem. He immediately went up to search 
the room of the wife, who, hearing him coming, locked her para- 
mour in an adjoining closet. The slave broke open the door of 
the closet, and the man within rushed at him Avith a daggei', which 
he wore in his girdle ; but the former seized the blade in his 
hand, and the woman held him until her lover had escaped. She 
then kissed the slave's hand, and implored him not to cause her 
death by informing her husband of what had passed. She, how- 
ever, found him inexorable : he immediately went to his master, 
showing his bleeding hand, and telling him the cause of the 
wound. The woman, meanwhile, fled to the Basha's hareem for 
protection. Her husband demanded of the Basha that she should 
be given up and put to death ; and the request being deemed a 
proper one, she was brought before her former master to answer 
for her crime. She threw herself at his feet, kissed the skii't of 
his clothing, and acquainted him with her husband's vicious con- 
duct, and his utter neglect of her ; and the Basha, feeling himself 
insulted by the husband's conduct, spat in his face, and sent back 


the wife to his own hai'eem. Her paramovir did not live long 
after this : he was smothered in the house of some courtesans ; 
but none of these women Avas punished, as it could not be proved 
which of them committed the act. 

For the sentiments with regard to women, and their general 
conduct towards the fair sex, the Egyptians, in common with other 
Muslims, have been reprehended with too great sevei'ity. It is 
true that they do not consider it necessary, or even delicate, to 
consult the choice of a girl under age previously to giving her 
away in matrimony ; but it is not less true that a man of the 
middle or higher classes almost always makes his choice of a wife 
from hearsay, or as a person blindfold, having no means of seeing 
her until the contract is made and she is brought to his house. 
It is impossible, therefore, that there should be any mutual at- 
tachment before marriage. Both sexes, in truth, are oppressed 
by tyrannical laws and customs ; but, happily, they regard their 
chains as becoming and honourable — -they would feel themselves 
disgraced by shaking them off". As to the restraint which is exer- 
cised towards the women, I have before remarked that it is in a 
great degree voluntary on their part, and that I believe it to be less 
strict in Egypt than in any other country of the Turkish Empire; it 
is certainly far less so than it has been represented to be by many 
persons. They generally look upon this restraint with a degree 
of pride, as evincing the husband's care for them, and value them- 
selves upon their being hidden as treasures. In good society, it 
is considered highly indecorous to inquire in direct terms respect- 
ing the health of a friend's wife, or of any female in his house, 
unless she be a relation of the person who makes the inquiry. 
One of my Egyptian acquaintances asking another native of this 
country, who had been in Paris, what was the most remarkable 
thing that he had seen in the land of the infidels, the latter, 
thinking lightly of all that he had observed really worthy of 
exciting the admiration of an unprejudiced and a sensible man, 
gave the following answer :— " I witnessed nothing so remarkable 
as this fact. It is a custom of every person among the rich and 
great, in Paris and other cities of France, frequently to invite his 
friends and acquaintances, both men and women, to an entertain- 
ment in his house. The rooms in which the company are received 


are lighted witli a great number of candles and lamps. There the 
men and women assemble promiscuously — the women, as you well 
know, unveiled ; and a man may sit next to another's wife, whom 
he has never seen before, and may walk, talk, and even dance 
with her, in the very presence of her own husband, who is neither 
angry nor jealous at such disgraceful conduct." 

The Egyptians are equally remarkable for generosity and 
cupidity. That two such opjDOsite qualities should be united in 
the same mind is not a little sui'jjrising ; but such is generally the 
case with this people. An overreaching and deceitful disposition 
in commercial transactions, which is too common among all 
nations, is one of the most notorious faults of the Egyptian ; in 
such cases he seldom scruples to frame a falsehood which may 
better his bargain. Among people who groan beneath the yoke 
of a tyrannical and rapacious government (and such has long 
been the government of Egypt), a disposition to avarice invariably 
predominates — for a man is naturally most tenacious of that 
which is most liable to be taken from him ; and hence the op- 
pressed Egyptian, when he has a sum of money which he does 
not require for necessary expenses, and cannot ^irofitably employ, 
generally lays it out in the purchase of ornaments for his wife or 
wives, which ornaments he can easily convert again into money. 
Hence, also, it is a common practice in this country (as it is, or 
has been, in almost every country under similar political circum- 
stances) for a man to hide ti-easure in his house, under the paved 
floor, or in some other part ; and as many a person who does so 
dies suddenly, without being able to inform his family where is 
his "makhba," or hiding-place, money is not unfrequently dis- 
covered on pulling down houses. A vice near akin to cupidity — 
namely, envy — I believe to be equally prevalent among the modern 
Egyptians, in common with the whole Arab race; for many of 
them are candid enough to confess their own opinion that this 
hateful disposition is almost wholly concentrated in the minds of 
their nation. 

The Egyptians are generally honest in the payment of debts. 
Their Prophet asserted that even martyrdom would not atone for 
a debt undischarged. Few of them ever accept interest for a loan 
of money, as it is strictly forbidden by their law. 


Constant veracity is a virtue extremely rare in modern Egypt. 
Falsehood was commended by the Prophet when it tended to re- 
concile persons at variance with each other ; also when practised 
in oi'der to please one's wife, and to obtain any advantage in a 
war with the enemies of the faith, though highly reprobated in 
other cases. This offers some little palliation of the genei'al prac- 
tice of lying which prevails among the modern Arabs ; for if 
people are allowed to lie in certain cases, they insensibly contract 
a habit of doing so in others. Though most of the Egyptians 
often lie designedly, they are seldom heard to retract an unin- 
tentional misstatement without expressing themselves thus — •" ISTo ; 
I beg forgiveness of God : it was so and so " — as in stating any- 
thing of which they are not quite certain they say, " God is all- 
knowing." I may here mention (and I do it with some feeling 
of national pride) that, some years ago, there was an Armenian 
jeweller in this city (Caix'o) so noted for his vei'acity, that his 
acquaintances determined to give him some appellation significant 
of his possessing a virtue so rare among them ; and the name they 
gave him was " El-Ingileezee," or The Englishman, which has be- 
come his family name. It is common to hear tradesmen in this 
place, when demanding a price which they do not mean to abate, 
say, "One word — the word of the English." They also often say, 
"The word of the Franks," in this sense; but I have never heard 
any particular nation thus honourably distinguished excepting the 
English and the Maghi-ab'ees, or Western Arabs, which latter 
people have acquired this reputation by being rather more vera- 
cious than most other Arabs. 

I have before mentioned the practice of swearing by God 
which prevails among the Egyptians. I must here add that 
many of them scruple not to make use of an oath with the view of 
obtaining credit to a falsehood. In this case they sometimes say, 
"Wa-llahi!" ("By God!"), but more commonly, "Wa-llah!" 
for though the latter expression has the same meaning as the 
former, they pretend that it may also be used as an ejaculation in 
praise of God ; whereas " Wa-llahi " is a decided oath, and if 
uttered to a falsehood is a heinous sin. Such an oath, if violated, 
must be expiated by once feeding or clothing ten poor men, liber- 
ating a Muslim slave or captive, or fasting three days. This, 


however, is the expiation allowed by the Kur-an only for an in- 
considerate oath. Yet the modern Muslims sometimes observe it 
in order to free themselves from the guilt of a deliberate false 
oath ; and they generally prefer the fast to either of the other 
modes of expiation. There are some oaths which I believe few 
Muslims would falsely take— such as saying three times, " By 
God, the Great ! " and the oath upon the mus-haf (or copy of the 
Kur-an), saying, " By what this contains of the word of God ! " 
But a form of oath that is still more to be depended upon is that 
of saying, " I impose upon myself divorcement " (that is, the 
divorce of my wife, if what I say be false) ; or, " I impose upon 
myself interdiction ! " which has a similar meaning (" My wife be 
unlawful to me ! ") ; oi', " I impose ujDon myself a triple divorce- 
ment ! " which binds by the irrevocable divorce of the wife. If a 
man use any one of these three forms of oath falsely, his wife, if 
he have but one, is divorced by the oath itself, if proved to be 
false, without further ceremony ; and if he have two or more 
wives, he must, under such circumstances, choose one of them to 
put away. There are, however, abandoned liars who will swear 
falsely by the oath that is generally held most binding. A poet, 
speaking of a character of this description, says, — 

" But Abu-1-Mo'alla is most false 
When he sweax's by the oath of divorce." 

The generality of the Egyptians are easily excited to quarrel, 
particularly those of the lower orders, who when enraged curse 
each other's fathei's, mothers, beards, etc. ; and lavish upon each 
other a variety of opprobrious ei^ithets, such as "son of the dog, 
pimp, pig," and an appellation which they think still worse than 
any of these — namely, "Jew." When one curses the father of 
the other, the latter generally retorts by cursing the father and 
mother, and sometimes the whole household, of his adversary. 
They menace each other, but seldom proceed to blows. In a few 
instances, however, I have seen low persons in this country so 
enraged as to bite and grasp each other by the throat. I have 
also witnessed many instances of forbearance on the part of indi- 
viduals of the middle and lower classes when grossly insulted. I 
have often heard an Egyptian say, on receiving a blow from an 


equal, "God bless thee!" "God requite thee good!" "Beat me 
again ! " In general, a quarrel terminates by one or both parties 
saying, "Justice is against me." Often after this they recite 
the Fat'hali together, and then sometimes embrace and kiss one 

The Egyptians are particularly prone to satire, and often dis- 
play considerable Avit in their jeers and jests. Their language 
affords them great facilities for punning, and for ambiguous con- 
versation, in which they very frequently indulge. The lower 
orders sometimes lampoon their rulers in songs, and ridicule those 
enactments of the government by which they themselves most 
suffer. I was once nmch amused with a song which I found to be 
very popular in the town and district of Aswan, on the southern 
frontier of Egypt ; its burden was a plain invocation to the plague 
to take their tyrannical governor and his Copt clerk. Another 
song, which was popular throughout Egypt during my first visit 
to this country, and which was composed on the occasion of an 
increase of the income-tax called "firdeh," began thus : "You who 
have [nothing on your head but] a libdeh, sell it, and pay the 
firdeh." The libdeh, I have before mentioned, is a felt cap, which 
is worn under, or instead of, the tui'ban ; and the man must be 
very poor who has no other covering than this for his head. 


It is melancholy to contrast the present poverty of Egypt with its 
pi'osperity in ancient times, Avhen the variety, elegance, and exqui- 
site finish displayed in its manufactures attracted the admiration 
of surrounding nations, and its inhabitants were in no need of 
foreign commerce to increase their wealth or to add to their com- 
forts. Antiquarian researches show us that a high degree of 
excellence in the arts of civilized life distinguished the Egyptians 
in the age of Moses, and at a yet earlier period. Not only the 
Pharaohs and the priests and military chiefs, but also a great pro- 
portion of the wealthy agriculturists, and other private individuals, 



in those remote times, passed a life of the most refined luxury, 
were clad in linen of the most delicate fabric, and reclined on 
couches and chairs which have served as models for the furniture 
of our modern saloons. Nature is as lavish of her favours as she 
was of old to the inhabitants of the valley of the Nile, but for 
many centuries they have ceased to enjoy the benefit of a steady 
o-overnment. Each of their successive rulers during this long 
lapse of time, considering the uncertain tenure of his power, has 
been almost wholly intent upon increasing his own wealth ; and 
thus a large portion of the nation has gradually perished, and 
the remnant, in general, been reduced to a state of "the most 
afflicting poverty. The male portion of the population of 
Egypt being scarcely greater than is sufficient for the' cultivation 
of as much of the soil as is subject to the natural inundation, 
or easily irrigated by artificial means, the number of persons 
who devote themselves to manufactures in this country is 
comparatively very small ; and as there are so few competitors, 
and at present few persons of wealth to encourage them, their 
works in general display but little skill. But the low state of 
the manual arts has, in a great degree, been occasioned by 
another cause : the Turkish Sultan Seleem, after his conquest of 
Egypt, took with him thence to his own country, as related by 
El-Gabartee, so many masters of crafts which were not practised 
in Turkey, that more than fifty manual arts ceased to be pursued 
in Egypt. 

Painting and sculpture, as applied to tlie representation of 
living objects, are, I have already stated, absolutely prohibited by 
the religion of El-Islam. There are, liowever, some Muslims in 
Egypt who attempt the delineation of men, lions, camels, and 
other animals, flowers, boats, etc., particularly in (what they call) 
the decoration of a few shop-fronts, the doors of pilgrims' houses, 
etc., though their performances would be surpassed by children 
of five or six years of age in our own country. But the Muslim 
religion especially promotes industry, by requiring that every man 
be acquainted with some art or occupation by which he may, in 
case of necessity, be able to support himself and those dependent 
upon him, and to fulfil all his religious and moral duties. The art 
in which the Egyptians most excel is architecture. The finest 



specimens of Arabian architecture are found in the Egyptian 
metropolis and its environs ; and not only the mosques and other 
public buildings are remarkable for their grandeur and beauty, 
but many of the private dwellings also attract our admiration, 
especially by their interior structure and decorations. Yet this 
aiii has of late years much declined, like most others in this 
country ; a new style of architecture, partly Oriental and paj'tly 
European, and of a very plam description, being generally pre- 
ferred. The dooi's, ceilings, windows, and pavements of the build- 
ings in the older style, which have already been described, display 
considerable taste of a peculiar kind ; and so also do most of the 
Egyptian manufactures, thougli many of them are rather clumsy 
or ill-finished. The turners of wood, whose chief occupation was 
that of making the lattice-work of windows, were very numerous, 
and their work was generally neater than it is at present ; they 
have less employment now, as windows of modern houses are often 
made of glass. The turner, like most other artisans in Egypt, sits 
to his work. In the art of glass-making, for which Egypt was so 
much celebrated in ancient times, the modern inhabitants of this 
country possess but little skill. They have lost the art of manu- 
facturing coloured glass for windows ; but for the construction of 
windows of this material they are still admired, though not so 
much as they were a few years ago, before the adoption of a new 
style of architecture diminished the demand for their work. Their 
pottery is generally of a rude kind. It mostly consists of porous 
bottles and jars for cooling as well as keeping water. For their 
skill in the preparation of morocco leather they are justly cele- 
brated. The branches and leaves of the palm tree they employ in 
a great variety of manufactures : of the former they make seats, 
coops, chests, frames for beds, etc. ; of the latter, baskets, pan- 
niers, mats, brooms, fly-whisks, and many other utensils. Of the 
fibres, also, that grow" at tlie foot of the branches of the palm tree, 
are made most of the ropes used in Egypt. The best mats (which 
are much used instead of carpets, particularly in summer) are 
made of rushes. Egypt has lost the celebrity which it enjoyed 
in ancient times for its fine linen. The linen, cotton, and woollen 
cloths, and the silks now woven in this country, are generally of 
coarse or poor qualities. 


The Egyptians have long been famous for the art of hatching 
fowls' eggs by artificial heat. This practice, though obscurely 
described by ancient authors, appears to have been common in 
Egypt in very remote times. Tlie building in which the process 
is performed is called in Lower Egypt "maamal el-firakh," and 
in Upper Egypt " maamal el-farroog." In tlie former division 
of the country, there are more tlian a hundred such establish^ 
ments ; and in the latter, more than half that number. Most of 
the superintendents, if not all, are Copts. The proprietors pay 
a tax to the government. The maamal is constructed of burnt or 
sun-dried bricks, and consists of two parallel rows of small ovens 
and cells for fire, divided by a narrow, vaulted passage ; each oven 
being about nine or ten feet long, eight feet wide, and five or six 
feet high, and having above it a vaulted fire-cell of the same size, 
or rather less in height. Each oven communicates with the pas- 
sage by an aperture large enough for a man to enter, and with 
its fire-cell by a similar aperture , the fire-cells, also, of the same 
row communicate with each other, and each has an aperture in 
its vault (for the escape of the smoke), which is opened only occa- 
sionally ; the passage, too, has several such apertures in its vaulted 
roof. The eggs are placed upon mats or straw, and one tier above 
another, usually to the number of three tiers, in the O'^ens ; and 
burning gelleh (a fuel before mentioned, comj^osed of the dung 
of animals, mixed with chopped straw, and made into the form of 
round flat cakes) is placed upon the floors of the fire-cells above. 
The entrance of the maamal is well closed. Before it are two or 
three small chambei's — for the attendant, and the fuel, and the 
chickens when newly hatched. The operation is performed only 
during two or three months in the year — in the spring — earliest 
in the most southei-n parts of the country. Each maamal, in 
general, contains from twelve to twenty-four ovens, and receives 
about a hundred and fifty thousand eggs during the annual period 
of its continuing open, one quarter or a third of which number 
generally fail. The peasants of the neighbourhood supply the 
eggs ; the attendant of the maamal examines them, and afterwards 
usually gives one chicken for every two eggs that he has received. 
In general, only half the number of ovens are used for the first 
ten days, and fires are lighted only in the fire-cells above these. 

I XB us TRY. 321 

On the eleventh day these fires are put out, and others are lighted 
in the other tire-cells, and fresh eggs placed in the ovens below 
these last. On the following day some of the eggs in the former 
ovens are removed, and placed on the floor of the fire-cells above, 
where the fires have been extinguished The general heat main- 
tained during the process is from 100° to 103' of Fahrenheit's 
thermometer. The manager, having been accustomed to this art 
fi-om his youth, knows, from his long experience, the exact tem- 
perature that is required for the success of the operation, without 
having any instrument like our thermometer to guide him. On 
the twentieth day some of the eggs first put in are hatched, but 
most on the twenty-first day — that is, after the same period as is 
required in the case of natural incubation. The weaker of the 
chickens are placed in the passage ; the rest in the innermost of 
the anterior apartments, where they remain a day or two before 
they are given to the persons to whom they are due. "When the 
eggs first placed have been hatched, and the second supply half 
hatched, the ovens in which the former were placed, and which 
are now vacant, receive the third supply ; and, in like manner, 
when the second supply is hatched, a fourth is introduced in 
their place. I have not found that the fowls produced in this 
manner are inferior in point of flavour, or in other respects, to 
those produced from the egg by incubation. The fowls and their 
eggs in Egypt are, in both cases, and with respect to size and 
flavour, very inferior to those in our country. In one of the 
Egyptian Kg\vspapers published by order of the government (No. 
248, for the 18th of Ramadan 1246, or the 3rd of March 1831 
of our era) I find the following statement : — 

Lower Egypt. Upper Egypt 

Number of establishments for the hatcliing 

of fowls' eggs in the present year 105 59 

Number of eggs used 19,325,600 6,878,900 

Number spoiled 6,255,807 2,529,660 

Number hatched 13,069,733 4,349,240 

Though the commerce of Egypt has much declined since the 
discovery of the passage from Europe to India by the Cape of 
Good Hope, and in consequence of the monopolies and exactions 
of its present ruler, it is still considerable. 

(440 21 



The principal imjjorts from Europe are woollen cloths (chiefly 
from France), calico, plain muslin, figured muslin (of Scotch 
manufacture, for turbans), silks, velvet, crape, shawls (Scotch, 
English, and French) in imitation of those of Kashmeer, writing- 
paper (chieflj^ from Venice), fire-arms, straight sword-blades (from 
Germany) for the Nubians, etc., watches and clocks, coffee-cups 
and various articles of earthenware and glass (mostly from Ger- 
many), many kinds of hardwares, planks, metal, beads, wine, and 
liqueurs, — and white slaves, silks, embroidered handkerchiefs and 
napkins, mouth-pieces of pipes, slippers, and a variety of made 
goods, copper and brass wares, etc., from Constantinople ; from 
Asia Minor, carpets (among which the seggadehs, or small prayer- 
carpets), figs, etc. ; from Syria, tobacco, striped silks, 'abayehs 
(or woollen cloaks), soap ; from Arabia, coffee, spices, several 
drugs, Indian goods (as shawls, silks, muslins, etc.) ; from Abys- 
sinia and Sennar and the neighboui'ing countries, slaves, gold, 
ivory, ostrich-feathers, kurbags (or whips of hippopotamus' hide), 
tamarind in cakes, gums, senna ; from El-Gharb, or the West 
(that is, northern Africa, from Egypt westwards), tarbooshes (or 
red cloth skull-caps), burnooses (or white woollen hooded cloaks), 
herams (or white woollen sheets, used for night-coverings and for 
dress), yellow morocco shoes. 

The principal exj^orts to Europe are wheat, maize, rice, beans, 
cotton, flax, indigo, coffee, various spices, gums, senna, ivory, 
ostrich-feathers ; to Turkey, male and female Abyssinian and 
black slaves (including a few eunuchs), rice, coffee, spices, henna, 
etc. ; to Syria, slaves, rice, etc. ; to Arabia, chiefly corn ; to 
Sennar and the neighbouring countries, cotton and linen and 
woollen goods, a few Syrian and Egyptian striped silks, small 
carpets, beads and other ornaments, soap, the straight sword- 
blades mentioned before, fire - arms, copper wares, writing- 

To convey some notion of the value of money in Cairo, I in- 
sert the following list of the present prices of certain common 
articles of food, etc. In the country towns and villages most 
kinds of provisions are cheaper than in the metropolis — meat, 
fowls, and pigeons, about half the prices here mentioned ] wheat 
and bread, from about one-third to half. 



p. F. £ i-. Z>. 
Wheat, the ardebb (or about five bushels), 

from50P. to 63 13 21 

Eice, the ardebb, about 240 2 8 

Mutton or lamb, the rati 10 2| 

Beef, do 35 1-^ 

Fowls, each, 1 P. 10 F. to 120 3f 

Pigeons, the pair, 1 P. 10 F. to 1 20 3f 

Eggs, three for 5 OfV 

Fresh butter, the rati 2 4* 

Clarified butter, do. 2 P. to 2 10 5* 

Coffee, do. 6 P. to 7 1 4i 

Gebelee tobacco, the ukkah, 15 P. to 18 3 7i 

Sooree tobacco, do. 5 P. to 10 2 

Egyptian loaf-sugar, the rati 2 4i 

European loaf-sugar, do 2 10 5j 

Summer grapes, do 10 Of 

Latergrapes, do. 20 F. to 30 1| 

Fine biscuit, the kantar ICO 1 12 

Water, the kirbeh (or goat's skin), 10 F. to.... 20 \\ 

Firewood, the donkey-load .« 11 2 2? 

Charcoal, the ukkah, 20 F. to 30 1* 

Soap, the rati 130 4i 

TaUow-candles, the ukkah 8 20 1 8| 

Best wax-candles, do 25 5 

iW)<e.— The "rati" is about 1.5| oz., and the "ukkah " nearly 2f lbs., avoir- 
dupois. The "kantar" is 100 ratls. P. denotes piasters; F., faddahs. For 
a full account of Egyptian measures, weights, and moneys, see the Appendix. 

There are in Cairo numerous buildings called " wekalelis," 
chiefly designed for the accommodation of merchants, and for the 
Teception of their goods. The wekaleh is a building surrounding 
a square or oblong court. Its ground-floor consists of vaulted 
magazines for merchandise, which face the court ; and these 
magazines are sometimes used as shops. Above them are gener- 
ally lodgings, which are entered from a gallery extending along 
each of the four sides of the court ; or, in the place of these 
lodgings, there are other magazines ; and in many wekalehs, which 
have apartments intended as lodgings, these apartments are used 
as magazines. In general, a wekaleh has only one common en- 
trance, the door of which is closed at night, and kept by a porter. 
There are about two hundred of these buildings in Cairo, and 
three-fourths of that number are within that part which consti- 
tuted the original city. 

It has already been mentioned, in the Introduction to this 



work, that the great thoroughfare-streets of Cairo generally have 
a row of shops along each side, not communicating with the super- 
structures ; so, also, have many of the by-streets. Commonly a 
portion of a street, or a whole street, contains chiefly or solely 
shops appropriated to one particular trade,* and is called the 
sook (or market) of that trade, or is named after a mosque there 
situated. Thus a part of the main street of the city is called 
"Sook en-Nahhaseen," or the market of the sellers of copper 
wares (or simply "the Nahhaseen," the word "sook" being 
usually dropped) ; another part is called " the G6hargeeyeh," or 
[market of] the jewellers; another, "the Khurdageeyeh," or 
[market of] the sellers of hardwares ; another, " the Ghoreeyeh," 
or [market of] the Gh6reeyeh, which is the name of a mosque 
situated there. These are some of the chief sooks of the city. 
The principal Turkish sook is called "Khan El-Khaleelee." Some 
of the sooks are covered over with matting or with planks, sup- 
ported by beams extending across the street, a little above the 
shops or above the houses. 

The shop ("dukkan") is a square recess or cell, generally 
about six or seven feet high, and between three and four feet in 
width ; or it consists of two cells, one behind the other, the inner 
one serving as a magazine. Tlie floor of the shop is even with 
the top of a " mastab'ah," or raised seat of stone or brick, built 
against the front. This is usually about two feet and a half or 
three feet in height, and about the same in breadth. The front 
of the shop is furnished with folding-shutters, commonly consisting 
of three leaves, one above another: the uppermost of these is 
turned up in front j the other two leaves, sometimes folded to- 
gether, are turned down upon the mastab'ah, and form an even 
seat, upon which is spread a mat or carpet, with perhaps a cushion 
or two. Some shops have folding-doors instead of the shutters 
above described. The shopkeeper generally sits upon the mas- 
tab'ah, unless he be obliged to retire a little way within his shop 
to make room for two or more customers, who mount up on the 
seat, taking ofl" their shoes before they draw up their feet upon 
the mat or carpet. To a regular customer, or one who makes 
any considerable purchase, the shopkeeper generally presents a 

* This has long been the case in other Eastern countries. (See Jer. xxxvii. 21) 



pipe (unless the former have his own with him, and it be filled 
and lighted), and he calls or sends to the boy of the nearest coffee- 
shop, and desires him to bring some coffee, which is served in 
the same manner as in the house, in small china cups placed 
within cups of brass. Not more than two persons can sit con- 


veniently upon the mastab'ah of a shop, unless it be more spacious 
than is commonly the case ; but some are three or four feet broad, 
and the shops to which they belong five or six feet in width, and 
consequently these afford room enough for four persons or more 
sitting in the Eastern fashion. The shopman generally says his 
prayers upon the mastab'ah in the sight of the passengers in the 


street. Wlien he leaves his shop for a few uiinutes, or for about 
half-an-liour, he eitlier relies for the protection of his property 
upon the next shopkeepers or those opposite, or hangs a net before 
his shop. He seldom thinks it necessary to close and lock the 
shutters, excepting at night, when he returns to his house, or 
when he goes to the mosque on the Friday to join in the noon- 
prayers of that day. The apartments above the shops have been 
described in the Introduction. 

Buying and selling are here very tiresome processes to jDersons 
unaccustomed to such modes of bargaining. When a shopkeeper 
is asked the price of any of his goods, he generally demands more 
than he expects to receive ; the customer declares the pi-ice exor- 
bitant, and offers about half or two-thirds of tlie sura first named. 
The price thus bidden is, of course, rejected, but the shojjkeeper 
lowers his demand ; and then the customer, in his turn, bids 
somewhat higher than before : thus they usually go on until they 
meet about half-way between the sum first demanded and that first 
offered, and so the bargain is concluded. But I believe that most 
of the tradesmen are, by European travellers, unjustly blamed for 
tlius acting, since I have ascertained that many an Egyptian shop- 
keeper will sell an article for a profit of one ^?er cent., and even 
less. When a person would make any but a trifling purchase, 
having found the article that exactly suits him, he genei'ally makes 
up his mind for a long altercation : he mounts upon the mastab'ali 
of the shop, seats himself at his ease, fills and lights his pipe, and 
then the contest of words commences, and lasts often half-an-hour, 
or even more. Sometimes the shopkeeper or the customer in- 
terrupts the bargaining by inti'oducing some irrelevant topic of 
conversation, as if the one had determined to abate his demand 
no further or the other to bid no higher ; then again the haggling 
is continued. The bargain being concluded, and the purchaser 
having taken his leave, his servant generally receives from the 
tradesman a small present of money, which, if not given spon- 
taneously, he scruples not to demand. In many of the sooks in 
Cairo auctions are held on stated days, once or twice a week. 
They are conducted by " dellals " (or brokers), hired either by 
private persons who have anything that they wish to sell in this 
manner, or by shopkeepers ; and the purchasers are of both these 


classes. The tlellals carry tlie goods u]5 and down, announcing 
the suras bidden with cries of "harag"' or " haraj," etc. Among 
the lower orders a bargain of the most trifling nature is often 
made with a great deal of vehemence of voice and gesture : a 
person ignorant of their language would imagine that the parties 
engaged in it were quarrelling and highly enraged. The peasants 
will often say, when a person asks the price of anything which 
they have for sale, " Receive it as a present."* This answer having 
become a common form of speech, they know that advantage will 
not be taken of it ; and when desired again to name the price, 
they will do so, but generally name a sum that is exorbitant. 

It would be tedious and uninteresting to enumerate all the 
trades pursued in Cairo. Tlie principal of them are those of the 
draper, or seller of materials for dress (who is simply called 
'• tagir," or merchant), and of the seller of ready-made dresses, 
arms, etc. (who has the same appellation); the jeweller ("g61iar- 
gee"); the goldsmith and silversmith ("saigh"), who only works 
by order; the seller of hardwares ("khurdagee ") ; the seller of 
copper wares ("nahhas"); the tailor ("kheiyat"); the dyer 
("sabbagh"); the darner ("reflfa"); the ornamental sewer and 
maker of shereet, or silk lace, etc. ("habbak ") ; the maker of silk 
cords, etc. ("'akkad'"); the maker of pipes ("shibukshee ") ; the 
druggist and perfumer ("'attar"), who also sells wax-candles, etc.; 
the tobacconist (" dakhakhinee ") ; the fruiterer (" fakihanee ") ; 
the seller of dried fruits (" nukalee ") ; the seller of sherbet 
(" sharbetlee ") ; the oilman ("zeiyat"), who sells butter, cheese, 
honey, etc., as well as oil; the greengrocer (" khudaree ") ; the 
butcher ("gezzar"); and the baker (" farran "), to whom bread, 
meat, etc., are sent tO be baked. There are many cooks' shops, 
where kebab and various other dishes are cooked and sold ; but 
it is seldom that persons eat at these shops, generally sending to 
them for provisions when they cannot conveniently prepare food 
in their own houses. tShopkeepers often procure their breakfast 
or dinner from one of these cooks, who ai^e called "tabbakhs." 
There are also many .shops in which fateerehs, and others in which 
boiled beans (fool mudemmes), are sold. Both these articles of 

.\s Eplirnn dirt to Abraham when the latter expressed his wish to purchase the cave 
and field of Machpelah. (See Gen. xxiii. 11.) 


food have been described in a former chapter. Many persons 
of the lower orders eat at the shop of the "fatatiree" (or seller of 
fateerehs), or at that of the "fowwal" (or bean-seller). 

Bread, vegetables, and a variety of eatables are carried about 
for sale. The cries of some of the hawkers are curious, and 
deserve to be mentioned. The seller of "tirmis" (or lupins) 
often cries, " Aid ! O Imbabee ! Aid ! " This is understood in 
two senses — as an invocation for aid to the sheykh El-Imbabee, 
a celebrated Muslim saint, buried at the village of Imbabeh, on 
the west bank of the Nile, opposite Cairo, in the neighbourhood of 
which village the best tirmis is grown ; and also as implying that 
it is through the aid of the saint above mentioned that the tirmis 
of Imbabeh is so excellent. The seller of this vegetable also cries, 
" The tirmis of Imbabeh surpasses the almond ! " Another cry 
of the seller of tirmis is, " Oh how sweet the little offspring of the 
river ! " This last cry, which is seldom heard but in the country 
towns and villages of Egypt, alludes to the manner in which the 
tirmis is prepared for food. To deprive it of its natural bitterness, 
it is soaked for two or three days in a vessel full of water, then 
boiled ; and after this sewed up in a basket of palm leaves (called 
"fard"), and thrown into the Nile, where it is left to soak again 
two or three days, after which it is dried, and eaten cold, with 
a little salt. — The seller of sour limes cries, " God make them 
light [or easy of sale] ! O limes ! " — The toasted pips of a kind 
of melon called " 'abdallawee " and of the water-melon are often 
announced by the cry of " consoler of the embarrassed ! O 
pips ! " though more commonly by the simple cry of " Roasted 
pips ! " — A curious cry of the seller of a kind of sweetmeat (" hala- 
weh") composed of treacle fried with some other ingredients is, 
" For a nail ! O sweetmeat ! " He is said to be half a thief : 
children and servants often steal implements of iron, etc., from 
the house in which they live, and give them to him in exchange 
for his sweetmeat. — The hawker of oranges cries, " Honey ! O 
oranges ! Honey ! " and similar cries are used by the sellers of 
other fruits and vegetables, so that it is sometimes impossible to 
guess what the person announces for sale, as when we hear the 
cry of " Sycamore-figs ! O grapes ! " excepting by the rule that 
what is for sale is the least excellent of the fruits, etc., mentioned. 



as sycamore-figs are not so good as grapes. — A very singular cry 
is used by the seller of roses : " The rose was a thorn ; from the 
sweat of the Prophet it blossomed." This alludes to a miracle 
related of the Prophet. — The fragrant flowers of the henna-tree (or 
Egyptian privet) are carried about for sale, and the seller cries, 
" Odours of paradise ! O flowers of the henna ! " — A kind of 
cotton-cloth, made by machinery which is put in motion by a 
bull, is announced by the cry of " The work of the bull ! O 
maidens ! " 

As the water of the wells in Cairo is slightly brackish, numer- 
ous sakkas (carriers or sellers of water) obtain their livelihood 
by supplying its inhabitants with water from the Nile. During 
the season of the inundation, or rather during the period of about 
four months after the opening of the canal which runs through the 
metropolis, the sakkas draw their water from this canal ; at other 
times they bring it from the river. It is conveyed in skins by 
camels and asses, and sometimes, when the distance is short and 
the skin small, by the sakka himself. The water-skins of the 
camel (which are called " rei ") are a pair of wide bags of ox-hide. 
The ass bears a goat's skin (called " kirbeh ") ; so also does the 
sakka, if he has no ass. The rei contain three or four kirbehs. 
The general cry of the sakka is, "Oh, may God compensate 
[me] ! " Whenever this cry is heard, it is known that a sakka 
is passing. For a goat's skin of water, brought from a distance 
of a mile and a half or two miles, he obtains scarcely more than 
a penny. 

There are also many sakkas who supply passengers in the 
streets of the metropolis with water. One of this occupation is 
called " sakka sharbeh." His kirbeh has a long brass spout, and 
he pours the water into a brass cup, or an earthen kulleh, for any 
one who would drink. — There is a more numerous class who 
follow the same occupation, called " hemalees." These are 
mostly darweeshes, of the order of the Rifa'ees, or that of the 
Beiyoomees, and are exempt from the income-tax called firdeh. 
The hemalee carries upon his back a vessel (called " ibreek ") of 
porous gray earth. This vessel cools the water. Sometimes the 
hemalee has an earthen kulleh of water scented with "m6yet 
zahr " (or orange-flower water), prepared from the flowers of the 



" naring " (a bitter orange), for his best customers ; and often a 
sprig of naring is stuck in the mouth of his ibreek. He also 
generally has a wallet hung by his side. From persons of the 
hisher and middle orders he receives from one to five faddahs 
for a draught of water ; from the poor, either nothing, or a piece 
of bread, or some other article of food, which he puts in his 
wallet. Many hemalees, and some sakkas who carry the goat's 
skin, are found at the scenes of religious festivals, such as the 


moolids of saints, etc., in Cairo and its neighbourhood. They are 
often paid, by visitors to the tomb of a saint on such occasions, to 
distribute the water which they caiTy to passengers ; a cupful to 
whoever desires. This work of charity is called " tesbeel," and 
is performed for the sake of the saint, and on other occasions than 
moolids. The water-carriers who are thus employed ai^e generally 
allowed to fill their ibreeks or kirbehsat a public fountain, as they 
demand nothing from the passengers whom they supply. When 
employed to distribute water to passengers in the street, etc , they 



generally chant a short cry, inviting the thirsty to partake of the 
charity offered them in the name of God, most commonly in the 
words and to the air here followinsr — 









Se - beel 

Al - lah 

Y;i 'at - shall. 

and praying that Paradise and pardon may be the lot of him who 
afFoi'ds the charitable gift, thus, — 







El - gen 

neh wa- 1 - mae:li 


fi - reh 





heb es - se - beel. 

There are numerous other persons who follow occupations 
similar to that of the hemalee. Among these are sellers of " 'erk- 
soos," or infusion of liquorice, mentioned in a former chapter. The 
" 'ei'k-soosee " (or seller of this beverage) generally carries a red 
earthen jar of the liquid on his left side, partly supported by a 
strap and chain, and partly by his left arm ; the mouth having 
some leaf (or fibres of the palm tree) stuffed into it. He also 
carries two or more brass or china cups, which he knocks together. — 
In the same manner, many sharbetlees (or sellers of sherbet) 
carry about for sale "zebeeb" (or infusion of raisins). The shar- 
betlee connnonly bears in his left hand the glass vessel of a 
" sheesheh," filled with zebeeb ; and a large tin or copper jug full 
of the same, and several glass cups, in his right hand. Some 
sharbetlees carry on the head a round tinned copper tray, with a 
number of glass cups of "teen meblool" or " belah meblool," which 
are figs and dates steeped in water ; and a copper vessel, or a china 
bowl, of the same. Sahlab (a thin jelly, made of water, wheat- 
starch, and sugar, boiled, with a little cinnamon or ginger sprinkled 
upon it ; or made as a drink without starch) is likewise carried 
about in the same manner ; and " soobiya " (which is a drirk 
made of the pips of the 'abdalawee melon, moistened and pounded, 



and steeped in water, which is then strained and sweetened with 
sugar \ or made with rice instead of the pips) is also vended in a 
similar way, and carried in vessels like those used for zebeeb ; but 
the glass cups are generally placed in a kind of trough of tin, 
attached by a belt to the waist of the seller. 

It has been mentioned before that many poor persons in Cairo 
gain their livelihood by going about to clean pipes. The pipe- 
cleaner (" musellikatee ") carries a number of long wires for this 
purpose in three or four hollow canes or tubes of tin, which are 
bound together and slung to his shoulder. A small leather bag, 
full of tow, to wind round the top of the wire with which the pipe 
is cleaned, is attached to the canes or tin tubes. The musellika- 
tee generally obtains no more than a "nuss faddah" (or about a 
quarter of a farthing) for each pipe that he cleans. 

A very great number of persons of both sexes among the lower 
orders in Cairo, and many in other towns of Egypt, obtain their 
subsistence by begging. As might be expected, not a few of 
these are abominable impostors. There are some whose appear- 
ance is most distressing to every humane person who sees them, 
but who accumulate considerable property. A case of this kind 
was made public here a few months ago. A blind fellah, who 
was led through the streets of the metropolis by a young girl, his 
daughter, both of whom were always nearly naked, was in the 
daily habit of bringing to his house a blind Turkish beggar to 
sup with him. One evening he was not at home ; but his daughter 
was there, and had prepared the supper for his Turkish friend, 
who sat and ate alone ; and, in doing this, happened to put his hand 
on one side, and felt a jar full of money, which without scruple he 
carried away with him. It contained the sum of a hundred and 
ten purses (then equivalent to rather more than five hundred and 
fifty guineas), in kheyreeyehs, or small coins of nine piasters each. 
The plundered beggar sought I'edress at the Citadel, and recovered 
his property, with the exception of forty kheyreeyehs, which the 
thief had spent ; but was interdicted from begging in future. Chil- 
dren are often seen in Cairo perfectly naked ; and I have several 
times seen females from twelve to twenty years of age, and up- 
wards, with only a narrow strip of rag round the loins, begging in 
the streets of this city. They suffer little from exposure of the bare 


person to the cold of winter or the scorching sun of summer, 
being accustomed to it from infancy ; and the men may, if they 
choose, sleep in some of the mosques. In other respects, also, 
their condition is not quite so bad as their ajDpearance might lead 
a stranger to suppose. They are almost sure of obtaining either 
food or money sufficient for supplying the absolute wants of 
nature in consequence of the charitable disposition of their 
counti'ymen and the common habit which the tradespeople have 
of eating in their shops, and generally giving a morsel of their 
food to those who ask for it. There are many beggars who spend 
the greater part of the day's gains to indulge themselves at night 
with the intoxicating hasheesh, which for a few hours renders 
them, in imagination, the happiest of mankind. 

The cries of the beggars of Cairo are generally appeals to God. 
Among the most common are : " O Exciter of compassion ! O 
Lord!"— "For the sake of God! O ye charitable!"—"! am 
seeking from my Lord a cake of bread ! " — " O how bountiful 
thou art ! O Lord ! " — " I am the guest of God and the Pro- 
phet ! " In the evening, " My supper must be thy gift ! O Lord ! " 
On the eve of Friday, " The night of the excellent Fi'iday ! " 
and on Friday, " The excellent day of Friday ! " One wlio daily 
passed my door used to exclaim, " Place thy reliance upon God ! 
There is none but God ! " and another, a woman, I now hear 
crying, "My supper must be thy gift! O Lord! from the hand 
of a bountiful believer, a testifier of the unity of God ! masters ! " 
The answers which beggars generally receive (for they are so 
numerous that a person cannot give to all who ask of him) are : 
"God help thee!"— "God will sustain !"—" God give thee ! "— 
" God content, or enrich, thee ! " They are not satisfied by any 
denial but one implied by these or similar answers. In the more 
frequented streets of Cairo, it is common to see a beggar asking 
for the price of a cake of bread, which he or she holds in the 
hand, followed by the seller of the bread. Some beggai's, particu- 
larly darweeshes, go about chanting verses in praise of the Pro- 
phet, or beating cymbals or a little kettle-drum. In the country, 
many darweeshes go from village to village begging alms. I have 
seen them on horseback ; and one I lately saw thus mounted, 
and accompanied by two men bearing each a flag, and by a third 

(440) 22 


beating a drum : this beggar on horseback was going from hut to 
hut asking for bread. 

The most important of the occupations which employ the 
modern Egyptians, and that which (as before meiitioned) engages 
all but a very small proportion of them, is agricultui-e. 

The greater portion of the cultivable soil is fertilized by the 
natural annual inundation ; but the fields in the vicinity of the 
river and of the large canals, and some other lands, in which pits 
are dug for water, are irrigated by means of machines of different 
kinds. The most common of these machines is the "shadoof," 
which consists of two posts or pillai's of wood, or of mud and 
canes or rushes, about five feet in height, and less than three feet 
apart, with a horizontal piece of wood extending from top to top, 
to which is suspended a slender lever, formed of a branch of a 
tree, having at one end a weight chiefly composed of mud, and 
at the other, suspended to two long palm sticks, a vessel in the 
form of a bowl, made of basket-work, or of a hoop and a piece of 
woollen stuff or leather : with this vessel the water is thrown up 
to the height of about eight feet into a trough hollowed out for 
its reception. In the southern parts of Upper Egypt, four or five 
shadoofs are required, when the river is at the lowest, to raise the 
water to the level of the fields. There are many shadoofs with 
two levers, etc., which are worked by two men. The operation 
is extremely laborious. Another machine much used for the 
same purpose, and almost the only one employed for the irrigation 
of gardens in Egypt, is the "sakiyeh." This mainly consists of a 
vertical wheel, Avhich raises the water in earthen pots attached to 
cords, and forming a continuous series ; a second vertical wheel 
fixed to the same axis, with cogs ; and a large, horizontal, cogged 
wheel, which, being turned by a pair of cows or bulls, or by a 
single beast, puts in motion the two former wheels and the pots. 
The construction of this machine is of a very rude kind, and its 
motion produces a disagreeable creaking noise. There is a third 
machine, called "taboot," used for the ii'rigation of lands in the 
northern parts of Egypt, where it is only requisite to raise the 
water a few feet. It somewhat resembles the sakiyeh : the 
chief difference is that, instead of the wheel with pots, it has a 
large wheel with hollow jaunts or fellies, in which the water is 

S A K I Y E H. 


raised. In the same parts of Egypt, and often to raise the water 
to the channel of the taboot, a vessel like that of the shadoof, 
with four cords attached to it, is also used. Two men, each 
holding two of the cords, throw up the water by means of this 
vessel, which is called "katweh.' In the process of artificial irri- 
gation the land is divided into small squares, by ridges of earth, or 
into furrows ; and the water, flowing from the machine along a 
narrow gutter, is admitted into one square or furrow after another. 

The "rei" lands (or those which are naturally inundated) are, 
with some exceptions, cultivated but once during the year. After 
the waters have retired, about the end of October or beginning of 
November, they are sown with wheat, barley, lentils, beans, lupins, 
chick-peas, etc. This is called the " shitawee " (or winter) season. 
But the " sharakee " lands (or those which are too high to be 
subject to the natural inundation), and some parts of the rei, by 
artificial irrigation are made to produce three crops every year ; 
though not all the .sharakee lands are thus cultivated. The lands 
artificially irrigated produce, first, their shitawee crops — being 
sown at the same period as the rei lands, generally with wheat 
or barley. Secondly, in what is called the " seyfee," or in the 
southern parts of Egypt the " keydee " or "geydee" (that is, the 
summer) sea.son, commencing about the vernal equinox, or a little 
later, they are sown with millet (" durah seyfee "), or with indigo, 
or cotton, etc. Thirdly, in the " demeereh " season, or period of 
the rise of the Nile, commencing about or soon after the summer 
solstice, they are sown with millet again, or with maize (" durah 
shamee "), etc., and thus crowned with a third harvest. Sugar is 
cultivated throughout a large portion of Upper Egypt, and rice in 
the low lands near the Mediterranean. 

For the purpose of separating the gi'ain of wheat, barley, etc., 
and cutting the straw, which serves as fodder, the Egyptians use 
a machine called "n6rag," in the form of a chair, which moves 
upon small iron wheels, or thin cii'cular plates, generally eleven, 
fixed to three thick axle-trees — four to the foremost, the same 
number to the hindmost, and three to the intermediate axle-tree. 
This machine is drawn in a circle, by a pair of cows or bulls, 
over the corn. The plough, and the other implements which they 
use in husbandry, are of rude and simple kinds. 


The navigation of the Nile employs a great number of the 
natives of Egypt. The boatmen of the Nile are mostly strong, 
muscular men. They undergo severe labour in rowing, poling, 
and towing, but are very cheerful ; and often the most so when 
they are most occupied, for then they frequently amuse themselves 
by singing. In consequence of the continual changes which take 
place in tie bed of the Nile, the most experienced pilot is liable 
frequently to run his vessel aground ; on such an occurrence, it is 
often necessary for the crew to descend into the water to shove 
oft' the boat with their backs and shoulders. On account of their 
being so liable to run aground, the boats of the Nile are generally 
made to draw rather more water at the head than at the stern, 
and hence the rudder is necessarily very wide. The better kuid 
of boats used on the Nile, which are very numerous, are of a 
simple but elegant form, mostly between thirty and forty feet in 
length, with two masts, two large triangular sails, and a cabin, 
next the stern, generally about four feet high, and occupying about 
a fourth or a third of the length of the boat. In most of these 
boats the cabin is divided into two or more apartments. Sudden 
whirlwinds and squalls being very frequent on the Nile, a boat- 
man is usually employed to hold the main-sheet in his hand, that 
he may be able to let it fly at a moment's notice. The traveller 
should' be especially careful with respect to this precaution, how- 
ever light the wind. 



The interdiction of wine and other fermented and intoxicatnig 
liquors, which is one of the most important laws in the code of 
El-IsL4m, has caused the greater number of the disciples of this 
faith to become immoderately addicted to other means of inducing 
slight intoxication, or different kinds of pleasurable excitement. 

The most prevalent means, in most jMuslim countries, of excit- 
ing what the Arabs term "keyf,'' which I cannot more nearly 
translate than by the word " exhilaration," is tobacco. It appears 



that tobacco was introduced into Turkey, Arabia, and other 
countries of the East, shortly before the beginning of the seven- 
teenth century of the Christian era — that is, not many years after 
it had begun to be regularly imported into Western Europe as an 
article of commerce from America. Its lawfulness to the Muslim 
has often been warmly disputed, but is now generally allowed.^'' 
In the character of the Turks and Arabs who have become addicted 
to its use it has induced considerable changes, particularly render- 
ing them more inactive than they were in earlier times, leading 
them to waste over the pipe many hours which might be profit- 
ably employed ; but it has had another and a better effect — that 
of superseding in a great measure the use of wine, which, to say 
the least, is very injurious to the health of the inhabitants of hot 
climates. In the tales of "The Thousand and One Nights," 
which were written before the introduction of tobacco into the 
East, and which we may confidently receive as presenting faithful 
pictures of the state of Arabian manners and customs at the period 
when they appeared, we have abundant evidence that wine was 
much more commonly and more openly drunk by Muslims of that 
time, or of the age immediately preceding, than it is by those of 
the present day. It may further be remarked, in the way of 
apology for the pipe as employed by the Turks and Arabs, that 
the mild kinds of tobacco generally used by them have a very 
gentle effect : they calm the nervous system, and instead of stupi- 
fying, sharpen the intellect. The pleasures of Eastern society are 
certainly much heightened by the pipe, and it affords the peasant 
a cheap and sober refreshment, and probably often restrains him 
from less innocent indulgences. 

The cup of coffee, which when it can be afforded generally 
accompanies the pipe, is commonly regarded as an almost equal 
luxury, and doubtless conduced with tobacco to render the use of 
wine less common among the Arabs ; its name, " kahweh," an old 
Arabic term for wine, strengthens this supposition. It is said that 
the discovery of the refreshing bevei^age afforded by the berry of 
the coffee-plant was made in the latter part of the seventh century 
of the Flight (or of the thirteenth of the Christian era), by a 
certain devotee named the sheykh 'Omar, who, driven by perse- 
cution to a mountain of El-Yemen, with a few of his disciples. 


was induced by tlie want of provisions to make an experiment of 
the decoction of coffee-berries as an article of food — tlie coffee- 
plant being there a spontaneous production. It was not, however, 
till about two centuries after this period that the use of coffee 
began to become common in El-Yemen. It was imported into 
Egypt between the years 900 and 910 of the Flight (towards the 
end of the fifteenth or the beginning of the sixteenth century of 
our era, or about a century before the introduction of tobacco 
into tho East), and was then drunk in the great mosque El-Azhar 
by the fakeers of El- Yemen and Mekkeh and El-Medeeneh, who 
found it very refreshing to them while engaged in their exercises 
of reciting prayers and the praises of God, and freely indulged 
themselves with it. About half a centui-y after, it was introduced 
into Constantinople. In Arabia, in Egypt, and in Constantinople, 
it was often the subject of sharp disputes among the pious and 
learned, many doctors asserting that it possessed intoxicating 
qualities, and was, therefore, an unlawful beverage to Muslims ; 
while others contended that among many other virtues it had 
that of repelling sleep, which rendered it a powerful help to the 
pious in their nocturnal devotions. According to the fancy of the 
ruling power, its sale was therefore often prohibited and again 
legalized. It is now, and has been for many year.?, acknowledged 
as lawful by almost all the Muslims, and is immoderately used 
even by the Wahhabees, who are the most rigid in their con- 
demnation of tobacco, and in their adherence to the precepts of 
the Kur-an and the Traditions of the Prophet. Formerly it was 
generally prepared from the berries and husks together ; and it is 
still so i^repared, or from the husks alone, by many persons in 
Arabia. In other countries of the East it is prej^ared from the 
berries alone, freshly roasted and pounded. 

Cairo contains aboA-e a thousand " Kahwehs," or coffee- shops. 
The kahweh is, generally speaking, a small apartment, whose front, 
which is towards the street, is of open wooden work, in the form 
of arches. Along the front, excepting before the door, is a 
mastab'ah, or raised seat, of stone or brick, two or three feet in 
height and about the same in width, which is covei-ed with mat- 
ting ; and there are similar seats in the interior on two or three 
sides. The coffee-shops are most frequented in the afternoon and 


evening, but by few excepting persons of the lower orders and 
tradesmen. The exterior mastab'ah is generally preferred. Each 
person brings with him his own tobacco and pipe. Coffee is served 
by the " kahweg'ee " (or attendant of the shop) at the price of 
five faddahs a cup, or ten for a little " bekreg " (or pot) of three 
or four cups. The kahweg'ee also keeps two or three nargeelehs 
or sheeshehs, and gozehs, which latter are used for smoking both 
the tumbak (or Persian tobacco) and the hasheesh (or hemp) ; for 
hasheesh is sold at some coffee-shops. Musicians and story-tellers 
frequent some of the kahwehs, particularly on the evenings of 
religious festivals. 

The leaves and capsules of hemp, called in Egypt "hasheesh,' 
were employed in some countries of the East in very ancient 
times to induce an exhilarating intoxication. Herodotus (lib. iv., 
cap. 75) informs us that the Scythians had a custom of burning 
the seeds of this plant in religious ceremonies, and that they be- 
came intoxicated with the fumes. Galen also mentions the intoxi- 
cating properties of hemp. The practice of chewing the leaves of 
this plant to induce intoxication prevailed, or existed, in India 
in very early ages ; thence it was introduced into Persia ; and 
about six centuries ago (before the middle of the thirteenth cen- 
tury of our era) this pernicious and degrading custom was adopted 
in Egypt, but chiefly by persons of the lower orders, — though 
several men eminent in literature and religion, and vast numbers 
of fakeers (or poor devotees), yielded to its fascinations, and con- 
tended that it was lawful to the Muslim. The habit is now very 
common among the lower oixlers in the metropolis and other 
towns of Egypt. There are various modes of preparing it ; and 
various names, as "sheera," "bast,"' etc., are given to its different 
preparations. Most commonly, I am told, the young leaves are 
used alone, or mixed with tobacco, for smoking ; and the capsules, 
without the seeds, pounded and mixed with several aromatic sub- 
stances, for an intoxicating conserve. Acids counteract its opera- 
tion. The prepai'ation of hemp used for smoking generally 
produces boisterous mirth. Few inhalations of its smoke, but the 
last very copious, are usually taken from the g6zeh. After the 
emission of the last draught from the mouth and nostrils, com- 
monly a fit of coughing, and often a spitting of blood, ensues in 


consequence of the lungs having been filled with the smoke. 
Hasheesh is to be obtained not only at some of the coffee-shops ; 
there are shops of a smaller and more private description solely- 
appropriated to the sale of this and other intoxicating prepara- 
tions — they are called " mahshesh'ehs." It is sometimes amusing 
to observe the ridiculous conduct, and to listen to the conversation, 
of the persons who frequent these shops. They are all of the 
lower orders. The term " hashshash," which signifies "a smoker 
or an eater of hemp," is an appellation of obloquy. K'oisy and 
riotous people are often called " hashshasheen," which is the 
plural of that appellation, and the origin of our word " assassin " — 
a name first applied to Arab warriors in Syria, in the time of the 
Crusades, who made use of intoxicating and soporific drugs in 
order to render their enemies insensible. 

The use of oj^ium and other drugs to induce intoxication is not 
so common in Egypt as in many other countries of the East. 
The number of Egyptians addicted to this vice is certainly not 
nearly so great, in jDroportion to the whole population, as is the 
relative number of persons in our own country who indulge in 
habitual drunkenness. Opium is called in Arabic "afiyoon," and 
the opium-eater " afiyoonee." This latter appellation is a term of 
less obloquy than that of hashshash, because there are many per- 
sons of the middle and higher classes to whom it is applicable. 
In its crude state opium is generally taken, by those who have not 
long been addicted to its use, in the dose of three or four grains 
for the purpose above mentioned ; but the afiyoonee increases 
the dose by degrees. The Egyptians make several conserves com- 
posed of hellebore, hemp, and opium, and several aromatic drugs, 
which are more commonly taken than the simple opium. A 
conserve of this nature is called "maagoon," and the person who 
makes or sells it "maagungee." The most common kind is called 
"barsh." There is one kind which, it is said, makes the person 
who takes it manifest his pleasure by singing ; another which will 
make him chatter ; a third which excites to dance ; a fourth which 
particularly affects the vision in a pleasurable manner; a fifth 
which is simply of a sedative nature. These are sold at the 

The fermented and intoxicating liquor called "boozeh," or 

THE BATH, 349 

"boozah," which is drunk by many of the boatmen of the Nile, 
and by other persons of the lower orders in Egypt, has been 
mentioned in a former chapter. I have seen in tombs at Thebes 
many large jars containing the dregs of beer of this kind, prepared 
from barley. 



Bathing is one of the greatest luxuries enjoyed by the people of 
Egypt. The inhabitants of the villages of this country, and those 
persons who cannot afford the trifling expense incurred in the 
public bath, often bathe in the Nile. Girls and young women are 
not unfrequently seen thus indulging themselves in the warm 
weather, and generally without any covering, but mostly in 
unfrequented places. The rich, I have before mentioned, have 
baths in their own houses ; but men who have this convenience 
often go to the public bath, and so also do the ladies, who on 
many occasions are invited to accompany thither their female 

There are in Cairo between sixty and seventy " Hammams," 
or baths, to which the public have access for a small expense. 
Some of these are for men only, others only for women and 
young children, and some for both sexes ; for men during the 
forenoon, and in the afternoon for females. When the bath is 
appropriated to women, a napkin, or any piece of linen or drapery, 
is hung over the entrance, to warn the men from entering — all 
the male servants having gone out a short time before, and 
females having taken their places. The front of the bath is 
generally ornamented in a manner similar to that in which most 
of the mosques are decorated, but usually more fanciful, in red 
and white, and sometimes other colours, particularly over and 
about the entrance. The building consists of several apartments, 
all of which are paved with marble, chiefly white, with an inter- 
mixture, in some parts, of black marble, and small pieces of fine 
red tile, in the same manner as the durka'ah of a room in a 
private house, of which a sketch has been inserted in the Intro- 

350 THE BATH. 

duction to this work. The inner apartments are covered with 
domes, which have a number of small, round, glazed apertures 
for the admission of light. The materials chiefly employed in the 
construction of the walls and domes are bricks and plaster, which, 
after having been exposed to the steam that is produced in the 
bath when it is in use, are liable to crack and fall if the heat 
be intermitted even for a few days. A sakiyeh (or water-wheel), 
turned by a cow or bull, is coiistructed upon a level with the 
higher parts of the building, to raise water from a well or tank 
for the supply of the boiler, etc. 

The bath is believed to be a favourite resort of ginn (or genii), 
and therefore when a person is about to enter it, he should ofter 
up an ejaculatory prayer for protection against evil spirits, and 
should put his left foot first over the threshold. For the same 
reason he should not pray nor recite the Kur-an in it. On 
entering, if he have a watch, and a purse containing more than 
a trifling sum of money, he gives these in charge to the "m'allim " 
(or keeper of the bath), who locks them in a cliest ; his pipe and 
sword (if he have one) he commits to a servant of the bath, who 
takes off" his shoes, and supplies him with a pair of wooden 
clogs — the pavement being wet. The first apartment is called 
the "meslakh." It generally has two, three, or four '.' lee wans," 
similar to mastab'ahs, or considerably wider, cased with marble, 
and a fountain (called " faskeeyeh ") of cold water, which rises 
from an octagonal basement constructed of stone cased with 
marble, etc., in the centre. One of the leewans, being designed for 
the accommodation of persons of the higher and middle orders, is 
furnished with mattresses and cushions ; upon the other, or others, 
which are for the lower orders, there is usually no furniture ex- 
cepting mats. In many baths there is also, in the meslakh, a 
small kind of stall, for coff'ee. 

In warm weather, the bathers mostly prefer to undress in the 
meslakh ; in winter, they undress in an inner, closed apartment 
called the " beyt-owwal," between which and the first apartment 
is a short passage, with two or three latrinse on one side. " Beyt- 
owwal" signifies "first chamber;" and this name is given to the 
chamber here mentioned because it is the first of the warm apart- 
ments, but it is less warm than the principal apartment, of which 

THE BATH. 351 

it is the antechamber. In general, it has two mastal)'ahs, one 
higher than the other, cased with marble like the pavement. The 
liigher accommodates but one person, and is for the higher 
classes ; the other is sufficiently large for two. When the former 
is occupied, and another high seat is wanted, two or three mat- 
tresses are placed one upon another on the lower mastab'ah, or 
on the leewan (or raised part of the floor). A seggadeh (or small 
prayer-carpet) is spread on the mastab'ah for a person of the 
higher orders. The bather receives a napkin in which to put his 
clothes, and another to put round his waist — this reaches to the 
knees, or a little lower, and is termed "mahzam ;" a third, if he 
require it, is brought to him to wind round his head, in the 
manner of a turban, leaving the top of the head bare ; a fourth 
to put over his chest, and a fifth to cover his back. It is generally 
a boy, or beardless young man, who attends the bather while he 
undresses, and while he puts on his mahzam, etc., etc. : he is 
called a " lawingee " (as the word is vulgarly pronounced), which 
is a corruption of "leewangee," or attendant of the "leewan." 

When the bather has undressed, and attired himself in the 
manner above described, the lawingee opens to him the door of 
the inner and principal apartment, which is called "harai'ah." 
This, in general, has four low leewans, like those of most rooms 
in private houses, which give it the form of a cross ; and in the 
centre a faskeeyeh (or fountain) of hot water, rising from a small 
shallow basin in the middle of a high octagonal seat, cased with 
white and black marble and pieces of red tile. The hararah, 
together with several chambers connected with it, may generally 
be described as occupying almost an exact square. The beyt- 
owwal is at one of the angles. Two small chambers, which adjoin 
each other, and occupy a second angle of the square, contain, the 
one a " maghtas," or tank, of warm water, to which there is an 
ascent of a few steps ; the other, a " hanafeeyeh," consisting of 
two taps projecting from the wall, one of hot and one of cold 
water, with a small trough beneath, before which is a seat. The 
name of hanafeeyeh is commonly given, not merely to the taps 
above mentioned, but to the chamber which contains them. A 
third angle of the square is occupied by two other small chambers 
similar to those just described — one containing a second maghtas, 

352 THE BATH. 

of watex' not quite so warm as the former ; the other, a second 
hanafeeyeh. Each maghtas is filled by a stream of water pouring 
down from the dome of the chamber. The fourth angle of the 
square is generally occupied- by a chamber which has no communi- 
cation with the hararah, and which contains the tire over which is 
the boiler. The central j)art of the hararah, its leewans, and the 
small chambers connected with it, are covered with domes, which 
have a number of small glazed apertures. 

The bather having entered the hararah, soon perspires pro- 
fusely from the humid heat which is produced by the hot water 
of the tanks and fountain and by the boiler. The operator of the 
bath, who is called " mukeyyisatee," immediately comes to him. 
If the bather be covered with more than one napkin, the mukey 
yisatee takes them off and gives him a wet mahzam ; or the former 
mahzam is retained and wetted. The bather sits on the marble 
seat of the faskeeyeh, or lies upon a napkin on one of the leewans, 
or by the edge of one of the tanks, to submit to the first operation, 
which is that of cracking his joints. The operator cracks almost 
every joint of his frame : he wrings the body, first one way and then 
the other, to make several of the vertebrae crack ; even the neck 
is made to crack twice, by wrenching the head round each way, 
which produces a sensation rather alarming to an inexperienced 
person ; and each ear is generally twisted round until it cracks. 
The limbs are wrested with apparent violence, but with such skill 
that an untoward accident in this operation is never heard of. 
The main object of this process is to render the joints supple. 
The mukeyyisatee also kneads the bather's flesh. After this, or 
previously, he rubs the soles of his feet with a kind of rasp of 
baked clay. There are two kinds of rasps used for this purpose : 
one is very porous and rough, and its rasping surface is scored 
with several lines ; the other is of a fine close clay, and the 
surface with which the rubbing is performed is rendered rough 
artificially. Both are of a dark, blackish colour. Those which are 
used by ladies are generally encased (the lower or rasping surface 
of coui'se excepted) in thin, embossed silver. The rougher rasp 
is of indispensable utility to persons who do not wear stockings, 
which is the case with most of the inhabitants of Egypt ; the 
other is for the more delicate, and is often used for rubbing the 

THE BATH. 353 

limbs to reiidei' the skin smooth. The next operation is that of 
rubbing the bather's flesh with a small, coarse woollen bag. This 
done, the bather, if he please, dips himself in one of the tanks. 
He is next taken to a hanafeeyeh. A napkin having been hung 
before the entrance to this, the mukeyyisatee lathers the bather 
with "leef " (or fibres of the palm tree) and soap and sweet water, 
which last is brought in a copper vessel, and warmed in one of 
the tanks ; for the water of the hanafeeyeh is from a well, some- 
what brackish, and consequently not fit for washing with soa}). 
The leef is employed in the same manner as sponge is by us. It is 
not of the kind produced by the palm tx'ees of Egypt, which is of 
a brown colour ; that used in the hammam is white, and is brought 
from the Hc^az. The mukeyyisatee washes off the soap with water 
from the hanafeeyeh, and if required shaves the bather's ai-m- 
pits ; he then goes, leaving him to finish washing, etc. The latter 
then calls for a set of napkins, four in number, and having covered 
himself in the same manner as before described, returns to the 
beyt-owwal ; but first it is the custom of persons of the more in- 
dependent classes to give half a piaster, or a piaster, to the mukey- 
yisatee, though it is not demanded. 

In the beyt-owwal a mattress is spi'oad for the bather on the 
mastab'ah, covered with napkins, and having one or two cushions 
at one end. On this he reclines, sipping a cup or two of coffee, 
and smoking, while a lawingee rubs the soles of his feet, and 
kneads his body and limbs ; or two lawingees perform these opera- 
tions, and he gives to each of them five or ten faddalis, or more. 
He generally remains half-an-hour, or an hour, smoking his shibuk 
or sheesheh ; then dresses, and goes out. The " haris," who is the 
foreman, and who has the charge of drying the napkins in the 
meslakh, and of guarding, brings liim a looking-glass and (unless 
the bather have neither beard nor moustaches) a comb. The bather 
asks him for his watch, etc., puts from one to four piasters on the 
looking-glass, and goes. One piaster is a common sum to pay for 
all the operations above described. 

Many persons go to the bath twice a week ; others, once a 
week, or less frequently ; but some are merely washed with soap 
and water, and then plunge into one of the tanks, — for winch, of 
course, they pay less. 

(440) 2.3 

354 THE BATH. 

The women who can afford to do so visit the hammam fre- 
quently, but not so often as the men. When the bath is not 
liired for the females of one family, or for one party of ladies 
exclusively, women of all conditions are admitted. In general, all 
the females of a house and the young boys go together. They 
take with them their own seggadehs, and the napkins, basins, etc., 
which they require, and e-s^en the necessary quantity of sweet 
water for washing with soap, and for drinking ; and some carry 
with them fruits, sweetmeats, and other refreshments. A lady 
of wealth is also often accompanied by her own " bellaneh " or 
" mash'tah," who is the washer and tire- woman. Many women 
of the lower orders wear no covering whatever in the bath, not 
even a napkin round the waist; others always wear the napkin 
and the high clogs. There are few pleasures in which the women 
of Egypt delight so much as in the visit to the bath, where they 
frequently have entertainments ; and often, on these occasions, 
they are not a little noisy in their mirth. They avail themselves 
of the opportunity to dis})lay their jewels and their finest clothes, 
and to enter into familiar conversation with those whom they 
meet there, whether friends or strangers. Sometimes a mother 
chooses a bride for her son from among the girls or women whom 
she chances to see in the bath. On many occasions, as, for in- 
stance, in the case of the preparations for a marriage, the bath is 
hired for a select party, consisting of the women of two or more 
families, and none else are admitted ; but it is more common for 
a lady and a few friends and attendants to hire a "khilweh": this 
is the name they give to the apartment of the hanafeeyeh. There 
is more confusion among a mixed company of various ranks; but 
where all are friends, the younger girls indulge in more mirth and 
fi'olic. They spend an hour or more under the hands of the 
bellaneh, who rubs and washes them, plaits their hair, applies the 
depilatory, etc. They then retire to the beyt-owwal or meslakh, 
and there, having put on part of their dress, or a large loose shirt, 
partake of various refreshments, which, if they have brought none 
with them, they may procure by sending an attendant of the bath 
to the market. Those who smoke take their own pipes with them. 
On particular occasions of festivity, they are entertained with the 
songs of two or more 'A'l'mehs, hired to acoom]iany them to the bath. 

GAMES. 355 



Most of the games of the Egyptians are of kinds which suit their 
sedate dispositions. They take great pleasure in cliess (which 
they call "satreng"), draughts (" danieh "), and trictrac or back- 
gammon (" tawulah "). Their chess-men are of very simple forms, 
as the Muslim is forbidden by his religion to make an image of 
anything that has life. The Muslims of Egypt in general are, 
however, less scrupulous with regaixl to the prohibition of games 
of hazard. Though some of them consider even chess and draughts 
as forbidden, games partly or wholly hazardous are very common 
among all ranks of this people ; and scarcely less so is that of 
cards, which, being almost always played for money, or for some 
other stake, is particularly called, by way of distinction, "leab 
el-kumar," "the game of hazard or of gain." Persons of the lower 
orders in the towns of Egypt are often seen playing at these and 
other games at the coffee-shops, but frequently for no greater stake 
than that of a few cups of coffee. 

One of the games most common among the Egyptians is that 
of the "mankal'ah." Two persons play at this with a board (or 
two boards joined by hinges) in which are twelve hemispherical 
holes, called " buyoot," or "beyts," in two equal rows, and with 
seventy-two small shells of the kind called cowries, or as many 
pebbles ; these, whether shells or pebbles, are termed the " hasa " 
(in the singular, " hasweh "). To explain the game of the man- 
kal'ah, I must distinguish the beyts of 
the board by letters, thus : — 

The beyts marked A, B, C, D, E, F, 
l)elong to one party, and the opposite six 
beyts to the other. One of the parties, mankal'ah. 

when they are about to play the game in the most simple manner 
(for there are two modes of playing it), distributes all the hasa 
unequally into the beyts, generally putting at least four into each 
beyt. If they were distributed equally there would be six in each 
beyt ; but this is seldom done, for in this case he who plays 

® ® © ® ® ® 

356 GAMES. 

first is sure to lose. The act of distributing the hasa is called 
"tebweez." When one party is dissatisfied with the other's dis- 
tribution of the hasa, he may turn the board round ; and then 
his adversary begins the game, which is not the case otherwise. 
Supposing the party to whom belong the beyts A, B, C, D, E, F, 
commences the game, he takes the hasa from beyt F, and distri- 
butes them to the beyts «, h, c, etc., one to each beyt; and if there 
be enough to put in each of his adversary's six beyts, and more 
remain in his hand, he proceeds in the same manner to distribute 
them to his own beyts, in the order A, B, C, etc. ; and then, if he 
have still one or more remaining, to his adversary's beyts, as be- 
fore, and so on. If the last beyt into which he has put a hasweh 
contain but one (having been empty before he put that in, for it 
may have been left empty at the first), he ceases, and his adversary 
plays; but if it contain two or foui', he takes its contents with 
those of the beyt opposite; and if the last beyt contain two or 
four, and one or more of the preceding beyts also contain either 
of these numbers, no beyt with any other number intervening, he 
takes the contents of these preceding beyts also, with the contents 
of those opposite. If the beyt into which he has put a hasweh 
contain (with this hasweh) three, or five, or moi'e, he takes these 
out, and goes on distributing them in the same manner as before : 
for instance, if in this case the last beyt into which he has put a 
hasweh be D, he puts one fi'om its contents into E, another into 
F, a third into a, and so on ; and thus he continues, until making 
the last beyt to contain but one stops him, or making it to contain 
two or four brings him gain, and makes it his adversary's turn to 
play. He always plays from beyt F, or if that be empty, from 
the nearest beyt to it in his own row containing one or more 
haswehs. When one party has more than a single hasweh in one 
or more of his beyts, and the other has none, the former is obliged 
to put one of his into the first of his adversary's beyts. If only 
one hasweh remain on one side and none on the other, that one 
is the property of the person on whose side it is. When the board 
is completely cleai'ed, each party counts the number of the hasa 
he has taken ; and the one wlio has most i-eckons the excess of 
his above his adversary's number as his gain. The gainer in one 
board begins to play the next board, his adversary having first 

GAMES. 357 

distributed the liasa. When either party has made his successive 
gains amount to sixty, he has won the game. — In this manner the 
game of the mankal'ah is played by young persons ; and hence 
this mode of playing it is called "the game of the ignorant" 
("leab el-ghasheem ") : others generally play in a different manner, 
which is termed "the game of the wise or intelligent" ("leab 
el-'akil "), and which must now be described. 

The hasa are distributed in one or more beyts on one side, 
and in the corresponding beyt or beyts on the other side, com- 
monly in four beyts on each side, leaving the two exti'eme beyts 
of each side vacant ; or they are distributed in any other con- 
ventional manner, as, for instance, about half into beyt A, and 
the remainder in beyt a. The person who distributes the hasa 
does not count how many he places in a beyt, and it is at his 
option whether he places them only in one beyt on each side, or 
in all the beyts. Should the other person object to his distribu- 
tion, he may turn the board round, but in that case forfeits his 
right of playing first. The person who plays first may begin 
from any one of his beyts, judging by his eye which will bring 
him the best fortune. He proceeds in the same manner as before 
described, putting one hasweh in each beyt, and taking in the 
same cases as in the former mode ; and then the other plays. 
After the first gain he counts the hasa in each of his beyts, and 
plays from that which will bring him the greatest advantage. 
One of the parties may stop the other to count the hasa which 
he takes out of a beyt to distribute, in order to insure his distri- 
buting them correctly. The gain of one party after finisliing one 
board is counted, as in the former mode, by the excess of the num- 
ber he has taken above the number acquired by the other, and the 
first who makes his successive gains to amount to sixty wins the 
game. This game is of use in practising the players in calculation. 
It is very commonly played at the coffee-shops ; and the players 
generally agree, though it is unlawful to do so, that the loser shall 
pay for the coffee drunk by himself and his adversary and the 
spectators, or for a certain number of cups. 

Another game very general among the lower classes in Egypt 
is called " tab." In other countries of the East this is called 
" tab wa-dukk ; " but I never hear this name given to it in Egypt. 



In this country it is played in the following manner : — Four small 
pieces of stick, of a flat form, about a span (or eight inches) in 
length, and two-thirds of an inch in bi'eadth, are first prepared — 
they are generally formed of a piece of palm branch, one side of 
which, being cut flat and smooth, is white, the other green, or if not 
fresh, of a dull yellow colour : the former side is commonly called 
white, and the other black. These are called the "tab." Next, 
it is necessary to be provided with a "seega." This is a board, 
divided into four i-ows of squares called " beyts " or " dars," each 
about two inches wide ; or it consists of similar rows of holes made 
in the ground or in a flat stone. The beyts are usually seven, 
nine, eleven, thirteen, or fifteen, in each row. To show the mode 
of playing the game, I shall here rej^resent a seega of nine beyts 
in each row, and distinguish the beyts by letters. 


































In each beyt of one exterior row is usually placed a little jDiece 
of stone, or dingy brick, about the size of a walnut ; and in each 
beyt of the other exterior row, a piece of red brick or tile. Or, 
sometimes, pieces are placed only in a certain number of beyts 
in those rows, as, for instance, in the first foui\ The pieces of 
one row must be distinguished from those in the other. They 
are called " kilab " (or dogs); in the singular, "kelb." The 
game is generally played by two persons. The four little sticks 
are thrown, all together, against a stick thrust into the ground or 
held in the hand with one end resting on the ground, or against 
a wall, or against a stick inclined against a wall. If they fall so 
that one only has its white side upwards, the player is said to have 
thrown, or brought, "tab" (plural " teeb "), or a "weled" (or 
child, plural " wilad "), and counts one ; if there be two white 
and the other two black, he counts two ("itneyn"); if there be 
three white and one black, he counts three ("telateh"); if all 

GAMES. 359 

four be white, four ("arba"ah") ; if all four black, six (" sitteli "). 
When one throws tab, or four, or six, he tlirows again ; but when 
he has thrown two, or three, it is then the turn of the other. To 
one of the players belongs the row of beyts A, B, C, etc. ; to the 
other, that of a, h, c, etc. They first throw alternately until one 
has thrown tab, and he who has done this then throws again 
until he has brought two, or three. Supposing him, at the be- 
gimiing of the game, to have thrown tab and four and two, he 
removes the kelb from beyt I, and places it in the seventh beyt 
from I, which is Q. He must always commence with the kelb in 
beyt I. The other party, in like manner, commences from beyt 
i. Neither party can remove a kelb from its original place but 
by throwing tab before each such removal. The kelbs before 
removal from their original places are called " Nasara " (or Chris- 
tians, in the singular " Nasranee "), and after removal, when 
they are privileged to commence the contest, "Muslimeen" (or 
" Muslims "). When a person has made a kelb a Muslim, it is 
said of him "sellem kelb," and of the kelb, "aslam." Each 
time that a player throws tab, he generally makes a kelb Muslim, 
until he has made them all so, and thus prepared them to circu- 
late in the beyts. Each player may have two or more kelbs in 
circulation at the same time. Let us suppose (to make the 
description more simple) that the person to whom belongs the 
row of beyts A, B, C, etc., is circulating a single kelb. He moves 
it through the two middle rows of beyts in the order of the 
letters by which I have distinguished them from K to S, and 
from k to s, and may then either repeat the same round or enter 
his adversary's row, as long as there is any kelb remaining in that 
row ; but in the latter case he does not continue to circulate the 
same kelb, excepting under cii-cumstances which will be men- 
tioned hereafter. Whenever a throw, or any of two or more 
throws, which the player has made enables him to move his kelb 
into a beyt occupied by one of his opponent's kelbs, he takes the 
latter. For instance, if one party has a kelb in the beyt m, and 
the other has one in o, and another in s, and the former has 
thrown tab (or one), and then four, and then two, he may take 
the kelb in o by the throw of two ; then, by the throw of four, 
take that in s ; and, by the throw of tab, pass into a, and take 

360 GAMES. 

a third kelb if it contain one. A player may, by means of a 
suitable throw, or two or more throws, move one of his kelbs 
into a beyt occupied by another of his own ; and these two 
together, in like manner, he may add to a third, or he may add 
a third to them : thus he may unite any number of his own kelbs, 
and circulate them together, as if they were but one ; but he 
cannot divide them again, and play with them separately, unless 
he throw tab. If he avail himself of a throw which he has made 
to bring them back into a row through which they have already 
passed (either separately or together), they become reduced to a 
single kelb. But he need not avail himself of such a throw ; he 
may wait until he throws tab. Two or more kelbs thus united 
are called an "'eggeh." The object of so uniting them is to 
place them as soon as possible in a situation of safety, as will 
be seen by what immediately follows. If either party pass one 
of his kelbs into his adversary's row, he may leave it there in 
safety, as long as he does not want to continue to play with it, 
because the latter cannot bring back a kelb into his own row. 
The former, however, cannot continue to circulate the kelb which 
has entered that row until he has no kelb remaining in his own 
row, or unless he have only an 'eggeh in his row, and does not 
throw tab, which alone enables him to divide the 'eggeh. In 
circulating through his adversary's beyts, he proceeds in the order 
of the letters by which I have marked them. He cannot pass 
the same kelb again into his adversary's row : after it has passed 
through that row, he circulates it through the two middle rows 
only, in the same manner as at first. This game is often played 
by four or more persons, and without the seega. When one per- 
son throws four he is called the Sultan. He holds a makra"ah, 
which is a piece of the thick end of a j^alm stick, with two or three 
sjDlits made in the thicker part of it. When a player throws six, 
he is called the Wezeer, and holds the stick against which the tab 
are thrown. Whenever a person throws two, the Sultan gives 
him a blow, or two or more blows (as many as the Wezeer may 
order), on the sole of his foot, or the soles of both feet, with the 
niakra"ah. When a player throws twice six, he is both Sultan 
and Wezeer. 

Many of the Fellaheen of Egypt also frequently amuse them- 

GAMES. 361 

selves with a game called that of the " seega," which may be 
described iii a few words. The seega employed in this game 
is ditferent from that of the tab. It consists of a number of 
holes, generally made in the ground, most commonly of five rows 
of five holes in each, or seven rows of seven in each, or nine 
rows of nine in each. The first kind is called the " kliamsawee 
seega;" the second, the " seb'awee ; " and the third, the "tis'- 
awee." A khamsawee seega is here represented. 

The holes are called " 'oyoon " (or eyes, in the singular "'eyn"). 
In this seega they are twenty-five in number. The players have 
each twelve kelbs, similar to those used in the game of the 

tab. One of them places two of his kelbs ^ ^ 

in the 'eyns marked a, a ; the other puts i j i J \^ \ j \ J 

two of his in those marked &, h. They then | 1 f \ i j f 1 f j 
alternately place two kelbs in any of the r—\ 1 — \ r — \ r — \ r-~\ 
'eyns that they may choose, excepting the '^ — > ^-—J ^ — ' ^ — ' ^ — ' 

central 'eyn of the seega. All the 'eyns ( J | j [ j ( 1 1 j 

but the central one being thus occupied f 1 { 1 HH i I f j 
(most of the kelbs placed at random), the 
game is commenced. The party who begins khamsa'wee seeua. 
moves one of his kelbs from a contiguous 'eyn into the central. 
The other party, if the 'eyn now made vacant be not next to any 
one of those occupied by his kelbs, desires his adversary to give 
him, or open to him, a way ; and the latter must do so, by re- 
moving, and thus losing, one of his own kelbs. This is also done 
on subsequent occasions, when required by similar circumstances. 
The aim of each party, after the first disposal of the kelbs, is to 
place any one of his kelbs in such a situation that there shall be, 
between it and another of his, one of his adversary's kelbs. This, 
by so doing, he takes ; and as long as he can immediately make 
another capture by such means, he does so, without allowing his 
adversary to move. These are the only rules of the game. It 
will be remarked that, though most of the kelbs are placed at 
random, foresight is requisite in the disposal of the remainder. 
Several seegas have been cut upon the stones on the summit of 
the great pyramid, Ijy Arabs who have served as guides to trav- 

Gymnastic games, or such diversions as require much bodily 

362 GAMES. 

exertion, are very uncommon among the Egyptians. Sometimes 
two peasants contend with each other, for mere amusement, or 
for a trifling wager or reward, with " nebboots," which are thick 
staves, five or six feet long : the object of each is to strike his 
adversaiy on the head. The nebboot is a formidable weapon, 
and is often seen in the hand of an Egyptian peasant. He often 
carries it when on a journey, particularly when he travels by 
night, — which, however, is seldom the case. Wrestling-matches 
are also sometimes witnessed in Egypt : the combatants (who are 
called " musare'een," in the singular " musare' ") strip themselves 
of all their clothing excepting their drawers, and generally oil 
their bodies ; but their exercises are not remarkable, and are 
seldom pei'formed but for remuneration, on the occasions of fes- 
tivals, processions, etc. On such occasions, too, mock combats 
between two men, usually clad only in their drawers, and each 
armed with a sabre and a small shield, are not unfrequently wit- 
nessed. Neither attempts to wound his advei'sary : every blow 
is received on the shield. 

The game of the "gereed," as played by the Mendooks and 
Turkish soldiei'S, has often been described ; but the manner in 
which it is practised by many of the peasants of Upper Egypt 
is much more worthy of descrij^tion. It is often played by the 
latter on the occasion of the marriage of a person of influence, 
such as the sheykh of a tribe or village ; or on that of a circum- 
cision ; or when a votive calf or ox or bull, which has been let 
loose to pasture where it will, by conniion consent, is about to be 
sacrificed at the tomb of a saint, and a public feast made with its 
meat. The combatants usually consist of two parties, of difierent 
"villages, or of diflferent tx-ibcs or branches of a tribe, each party 
about twelve or twenty or more in number, and each person 
mounted on a horse or mare. The two parties station them- 
selves about five hundred feet or more apart. A person from 
one party gallops towards the other party, and challenges them ; 
one of the latter, taking in his left hand four, five, six, or more 
gereeds, each six feet, or an inch or two more or less, in length, 
but generally equal in length to the height of a tall man, and 
very heavy (being the lower part of the palm stick, freshly cut, 
and full of sap), pursues the challenger at full gallop. He ap- 

MUSIC. 363 

proaches him as uear as possible — often within arm's length — and 
throws, at his head or back, one gereed after another, until he 
has none left. The gereed is blunt at both ends. It is thrown 
with the small end foremost, and with uplifted arm, and some- 
times inflicts terrible, and even fatal, wounds. The person against 
whom the gereeds are thrown endeavours to catch them, or to 
ward them off with his arm or with a sheathed sword, or he 
escapes them by the superior speed of his horse. Having sus- 
tained the attack, and arrived at the station of his party, he tries 
his skill against the person by whom he has been pursued, in the 
same manner as the latter did against him. This sport, which 
reminds us of the tournaments of old, and which was a game of 
the early Bedawees, continues for several hours. It is connnon 
only among those tribes who have not been many yeai'S, or not 
moi'e than a few centuries, settled on the banks of the Nile, and. 
who have consequently retained many Bedawee customs and 
habits. About the close of the period of my former visit to this 
country, three men and a mare were killed at this game within an 
hour, in the western plain of Thebes. It is seldom, however, that 
a man loses his life in this exercise ; at least, of late, I have heard 
of no such occurrence taking place. In Lower Egypt, a gereed 
only half the length of those above described, or little more, is 
used in playing this game. 

Other exercises, which are less frequently performed, and only 
at festivals for the amusement of the sjjectators, %vill be described 
in subsequent ]>ages, 



The Egyptians in general are excessively fond of music ; and yet 
they regard the study of this fascinating art (like dancing) as 
unworthy to employ any portion of the time of a man of sense, 
and as exercising too powerful an eff'ect upon the passions, and 
leading a man into gaiety and dissipation and vice. Hence it 
was condemned by the Prophet ; but it is used, notwithstanding, 
even in religious ceremonies, especially by the darweeshes. The 

364 MUSIC. 

Egyptians have very few books on music, and these are not 
understood by their modern musicians. The natural liking of 
the Egyptians for music is shown by their habit of regulating 
their motions, and relieving the dulness of their occupations, in 
various labours, by songs or chants. Thus do the boatmen, in 
rowing, etc. ; the peasants, in raising water \ the porters, in carry- 
ing heavy weights with poles ; men, boys, and girls, in assisting 
builders, by bringing bricks, stones, and mortar, and removing 
rubbish ; so also the sawyers, reapers, and many other labourers. 
Though the music of the Egyptians is of a style very difficult for 
foreigners to acquire or imitate, the children very easily and early 
attain it. The practice of chanting the Kur-an, which is taught 
in all their schools, contributes to increase their natural fondness 
for music. 

How science was cherished by the Arabs when all the nations 
of Europe were involved in the grossest ignorance, and how much 
the former profited by the works of ancient Greek writers, is well 
known. It appears that they formed the system of music which 
has prevailed among them for many centuries, partly from Greek 
and partly from Persian and Indian treatises. From tlie Greek 
language are derived the most general Arabic term for music — 
namely, "mooseeka" — and the names of some of the Arab musi- 
cal instruments; but most of the technical terms used by the 
Arab musicians are borrowed from the Persian and Indian lan- 
guages. There is a striking degree of similarity between many 
of the airs which I have heard in Egypt and some of the popu- 
lar melodies of Spain; and it is not surprising that this is the 
case, for music was mucli cultivated among the Arabs of Spain, 
and the library of the Escurial contains many Arabic treatises 
on this art. 

The most remarkable peculiarity in the Arab system of music 
is the division of tones into thirds. Hence I have heard Egyptian 
musicians urge against the European systems of music that they 
are deficient in the number of sounds. These small and delicate 
gradations of sound give a peculiar softness to the performances 
of the Arab musicians, which are generally of a plaintive charac- 
ter. But they are difficult to discriminate with exactness, and 
are therefore seldom observed in the vocal and instrumental 



■>c' 36s. 

MUSIC. 365 

music of those persons who have not made a regular study of 
the art. Most of the popular airs of the Egyptians, though of 
a similar character, in most respects, to the music of their pro- 
fessional performers, are very simple, consisting of only a few 
notes, which serve for every one or two lines of a song, and 
which are therefore repeated many times. I must confess that 
I generally take great delight in the more refined kind of music 
which I occasionally hear in Egypt, and the more I become habit- 
uated to the style, the more I am pleased with it ; though, at the 
same time, I must state that I have not met with many Euro- 
peans who enjoy it in the same degree as myself. The natives of 
Egypt are generally enraptured with the performances of their 
vocal and instrumental musicians : they applaud with frequent 
exclamations of " Allah ! " and " God approve thee ! " " God jore- 
serve thy voice ! " and similar expressions. 

The male professional musicians are called " A'lateeyeh " — in 
the singular, " A'latee," which properly signifies "a player upon 
an instrument;" but they are generally both instrumental and 
vocal performers. They are people of very dissolute habits, and 
are regarded as scarcely less disreputable characters than the 
public dancers. They are, however, hired at most grand enter- 
tainments to amuse the company, and on these occasions they 
are usually supplied with brandy, or other spirituous liquors, 
which they sometimes drink until they can neither sing nor strike 
a chord. The sum commonly paid to each of them for one niglit's 
performance is equal to about two or three shillings ; but they 
often receivQ considerably more. The guests generally contribute 
the sum. 

There are also female professional singers. These are called 
"'Awalim;" in the singular, "'A'rmeh,"or " 'A'limeh " — an ap- 
pellation literally signifying " a learned female." The 'Awalim 
are often hired on the occasion of ayp^e in the hareem of a person 
of wealth. There is generally a small, elevated apartment, called 
a " tukeyseh," or "mughanna," adjoining the principal saloon of 
the liareem, from which it is separated only by a screen of wooden 
lattice-work, or there is some other convenient place in which the 
female singers may be concealed from the sight of the master of 
the house, should he be present with his women. But when there 

366 MUSIC. 

is a party of male guests, they generally sit in the court, or in a 
lower apartment, to hear the songs of the 'Awalim, who, in this 
case, usually sit at a window of the hareem, concealed by the 
lattice-work. Some of them are also instrumental performers. 
I have heard the most celebrated 'Awalim in Caii'o, and have 
been more charmed with their songs than with the best perform- 
ances of the A'lateeyeh, and more so, I think I may truly add, 
than with any other music that I have ever enjoyed. They are 
often very highly paid. I have known instances of sums equal 
to more than fifty guineas being collected for a single 'A'l'meh 
from the guests at an entertainment in the house of a merchant, 
where none of the contributors were persons of much wealth. So 
powerful is the effect of the singing of a very accomplished 
'ATmeh, that her audience, in the height of their excitement, 
often lavish upon her sums which they can ill afford to lose. 
There are, among the 'Awalim in Cairo, a few who are not alto- 
gether unworthy of the appellation of "learned females," having 
some literary accomplishments. There are also many of an in- 
ferior class, who sometimes dance in the hareem ; hence travellers 
have often misapjilied the name of " alme," meaning " 'al'meh," to 
the common dancing-girls, of whom an account will be given in 
another chapter of this work. 

The Egyptians have a great variety of musical instruments. 
Those which are generally used at private concerts are the " kem- 
engeh," "kanoon," "'ood,"and "nay." 

The "kemengeh" is a kind of viol. Its name, which is 
Persian, and more properly written "kemangeh," signifies "a 
bow-instrument." This instrument, and all the others of which 
I insert engravings, I have drawn with the camera-lucida. The 
total length of the kemengeh which is here represented is thirty- 
eight inches. The sounding-body is a cocoa-nut, of which about 
a fourth part has been cut off. It is pierced with many small 
holes. Over the front of it is strained a piece of the skin of a 
fish of the genus Silurus, called " bayad ; " and upon this rests 
tlie bridge. The neck is of ebom^, inlaid with ivory, and of a 
cylindrical form. At the bottom of it is a piece of ivory ; and 
the head, in which the pegs are inserted, is also of ivory. The 
pegs are of beech, and their heads of ivory. The foot is of 



iron : it passes through the sounding-body, and is inserted into 
the neck, to the depth of four or five inches. Each of the two 
chords consists of about sixty horse haii's : at the lower end they 
are attached to an iron ring, just below the sounding-body ; to- 
wards the other extremity, each is lengthened with a piece of 
lamb's gut, by which it is attached to its peg. Over the chords, 
a little below their junction with the gut strings, a double band 
of leather is tied, passing round the neck of the instrument. The 
bow is thirty-four inches and a half in length. Tts form is shown 


by the engraving. The stick is generally of ash. The horse- 
hairs, passed through a hole at the head of the bow-stick and 
secured by a knot, and attached at the other end to an iron ring, 
are tightened or slackened by a band of leather wliich passes 
through the ring just mentioned, and through another ring at the 
foot of the bow. A performer on the kemengeh, in passing the 
bow from one chord to tlie other, tui'ns the kemengeh about sixty 
degrees round. The sketches introduced are from drawings 
which I have made with the camera-lucida. Together they repre- 
sent an ordinary Egyptian Itand, sucli as is generally seen at a 



private entertainment. The performer on the kemengeh usually 
sits on the right hand of him who performs on the kanoon, or 

[Xo. I is the tey ; 2, the rin^, or thitnble ; j, /he plectrum.) 

opposite (that is, facing) the latter, on the left hand of whom sits 
the performer on the 'ood ; and next to this last is the performer 



on the nay. Sometimes there are other musicians, wliose insti'u- 
ments will be mentioned hereafter, and often two singers. 

The " kanoon " is a kind of dulcimer. Its name is from the 
Greek K-ai'tuv, or from the same origin ; and has the same signifi- 
cation — that is, "rule," "law," "custom." The instrument from 
which the engraving here given was taken is perhaps an inch or 
two longer than some others which I have seen. Its greatest 
length is thirty-nine inches and three-quarters, and its breadth 
sixteen inches ; its depth is two inches and one-tenth. The kanoon 
is sometimes made entirely of walnut-wood, with the exception 


of some ornamental parts. In the instrument which I have 
drawn, the face and the back are of a fine kind of deal ; the sides 
are of beech. The piece in Avhich the pegs ai'e inserted is of beech, 
and so also is the ridge along its interior edge through which the 
chords are passed. The pegs are of poplar-wood. The bridge is of 
fine deal. In the central part of the face of the instrument is a 
circular piece of wood of a reddish colour pierced with holes, and 
towards the acute angle of the face is another piece of similar 
wood likewise pierced with holes. In that part of the face upon 
which the bridge rests are five oblong apertures corresponding 

(4411) 24 



with the five feet of the bridge. A piece of fishes' skin nine inches 
wide is glued over this part, and the five feet of the bridge rest 
upon those parts of the skin which cover the five apertures above 
mentioned, slightly depressing the skin. The chords are of lamb's 
gut. There are three chords to each note, and altogether twenty- 
four treble chords. The shortest side of the instrument is veneered 
with walnut-wood, inlaid with mother-of-pearl. The instrument is 
played with two plectra, one plectrum attached to the forefinger 
of each hand. Each plectrum is a small, thin piece of buflalo's 
horn, and is placed between the finger and a ring, or thimble, 


formed of a flat piece of brass or silver, in the manner represented 
in the sketch. The instrument is placed on the knees of the 
performer. Under the hands of a skilful player the kanoon 
pleases me more than any other Egyptian instrument without an 
accompaniment ; and to a band it is an important accession. 

The '"ood" is a lute which is played with a plectrum. This 
has been for many centuries the instrument most commonly used 
by the best Arab musicians, and is celebrated by numerous poets. 
Its name (the original signification of which is " wood "), with the 
article el prefixed to it, is the source whence are derived the terms 

MUSIC. 371 

Imto ill Italian, luth in French, lute in English, etc. The length 
of the 'ood, as represented in the accompanying engraving, mea- 
suring from the button or angle of the neck, is twenty-five inches 
and a half. The body of it is composed of fine deal, with edges, 
etc., of ebony; the neck of ebony, faced with box and an ebony 
edge. On the face of the body of the instrument, in which are 
one large and two small shemsehs of ebony, is glued a piece of 
fishes' skin, under that part of the chords to which the plectrum 
is applied, to prevent the wood from being worn away by the 
plectrum. The instrument has seven double strings, two to each 
note. They are of lamb's gut. The order of these double chords 
is smgular. The double chord of the lowest note is that which 
corresponds to the chord of the highest note in our violins, etc. ; 
next in the scale above this is the fifth (that is, counting the 
former as the first) ; then the seventh, second, fourth, sixth, and 
third. The plectrum is a slip of a vulture's feather. 

The "nay," which is the fourth and last of the instruments 
which I have mentioned as most commonly used at private con- 
certs, is a kind of flute. There are several kinds of nay, differing 
from each other in dimensions, but in little else. It has been 
called the darweesh's flute, because often used at the zikrs of 
darweeshes to accompany the songs of the "munshids." It is a 
simple reed about eighteen inches in length, seven-eighths of an 
inch in diameter at the upper extremity, and three-quarters of an 
inch at the lower. It is pierced with six holes in front, and 
generally with another hole at the back. The sounds are pro- 
duced by blowing through a very small aperture of the lips against 
the edge of the orifice of the tube, and directing the wind chiefly 
within the tube. By blowing with more or less force, sounds are 
produced an octave higher or lower. In the hands of a good 
performer the nay yields fine, mellow tones ; but it requires 
much practice to sound it well. A nay is sometimes made of a 
portion of a gun-barrel. 

Another instrument often used at private concerts is a small 
tambourine called " rikk," similar to one of which an engraving 
will be found in this chapter, page 373, but rather smaller. 

A kind of mandoline called "tamboor" is also used at concerts 
in Egypt, but mostly by Greeks and other foreigners. These 

372 MUSIC. 

musicians likewise use a dulcimer called " santeer," which resembles 
the kanoon, excepting that it has two sides oblique instead of one 
(the two opposite sides equally inclining together), has double 
chords of wire instead of treble chords of lamb's gut, and is beaten 
with two sticks instead of the little plectra. 

A curious kind of viol, called " rabab," is much used by poor 
singers as an accompaniment to the voice. There are two kinds 
of viol which bear this name — the "rabab el-mughannee " (or 
singer's viol), and the " rabab esh-sha'er " (or poet's viol) ; which 
differ from each other only in this, that the former has two chords 
and the latter but one. The latter is convertible into the former 
kind, having two pegs. It is thirty-two inches in length. The 
body of it is a frame of wood, of which the front is covered 
with parchment and the back uncovered. The foot is of iron ; 
the chord, of horse-hairs, like those of the kemengeh. The bow, 
which is twenty-eight inches long, is similar to that of the kemen- 
geh. This instrument is always used by the public reciters of the 
romance of Aboo-Zeyd in chanting the poetry. The reciter of this 
romance is called " sha'er " (or poet), and hence the instrument is 
called " the poet's viol," and " the Aboo-Zeydee viol." The sha'er 
himself uses this instrument, and another performer on the same 
kind of rabab generally accompanies him. 

The instruments used in wedding-processions, and the pro- 
cessions of darweeshes, etc., are chiefly a hautboy, called " zemr,'' 
and several kinds of drums, of which the most common kinds are 
the "tabl beleedee" (or country drum — that is, Egyptian drum) 
and the " tabl Shamee " (or Syrian drum). The former is of a 
similar kind to our common military drum, but not so deep. It 
is hung obliquely. The latter is a kind of kettle-drum of tin- 
copper, with a parchment face. It is generally about sixteen 
inches in diameter, and not more than four in depth in the centre, 
and is beaten with two slender sticks. The performer suspends it 
to his neck by a string attached to two rings fixed to the edge of 
the instrument. I have represented these drums in the sketch of 
a bridal procession, and in another engraving on page 73. 

A pair of large kettle-drums, called " nakakeer " (in the 
singular, " nakkarah "), are generally seen in most of the great 
religious processions connected with the pilgrimage, etc., in Cairo. 




They are both of copper, and similar in form, each about two- 
thirds of a sphere, but are of unequal dimensions ; the flat surface, 
or face, of the larger is about two feet or more in diameter, and 
that of the latter nearly a foot and a half. They are placed upon 
a camel, attached to the fore pai't of the saddle, upon which the 
person who beats them rides. The larger is placed on the right. 

Darweeshes, in religious processions, etc., and in begging, often 
make use of a little tabl or kettle-drum, called " baz," six or seven 
inches in diameter, which is held in the left hand by a little 
projection in the centre of the back, and beaten by the right liand 
with a short leather strap, or a stick. They also use cymbals, 
which are called "kas," on similar occasions. The baz is used by 
the ]\[usal)hir, to atti-act attention to his cry in the nights of 
Ramadan. Castanets of brass, called " sagat," are used by the 
public female and male dancers. Each dancer has two pairs of 
these instruments. They are attached, 
each by a loop of string, to the thumb and 
second finger, and have a more pleasing 
sound than castanets of wood or ivory. 

There are two instruments which are 
generally found in the hareem of a per- 
son of moderate wealth, and which the 
women often use for their diversion. One 
of these is a tambourine, called " tar," of 
which I insert an engraving. It is eleven 
inclies in diameter. The hoop is overlaid 
with mother-of-pearl, tortoise-shell, and 
white bone or ivory, both without and 
within, and has ten double circular plates 
of brass attached to it, each two pairs hav- 
ing a wire passing through their centimes. 
The tar is held by the left or right hand, and beaten with the fingers 
of that hand and by the other hand. The fingers of the hand which 
holds the instrument, striking only near the hoop, produce higher 
sounds than the other hand, which strikes in the centre. A tam- 
bourine of a larger and more simple kind than that here described, 
without the metal plates, is often used by the lower orders. — The 
other instrument alluded to in the commencement of this paragrapli 

1, SAGAT. 



is a kind of drum, called " darabukkeh." The best kind is made of 
wood, covered with mother-of-pearl and tortoise-shell, etc. It is 
fifteen inches in length, covered with a piece of fishes' skin at the 
larger extremity, and open at the smaller. It is placed under the 
left arm, generally suspended by a string that j^asses over the left 
shoulder, and is beaten with both bauds. Like the tar, it yields dif- 
ferent sounds when beaten near the edge and in the middle. A more 
common kind of darabukkeh is made of earth, and differs a little in 
form from that just described. An engraving of it is here given. 
The Ijoatmen of the Nile very often use an earthen darabukkeh, 

wi/ii..^ iilli^4ijli«"iiiK;,,,jim,.« 

y"ll^4 Ai«-iM,;lllTf'i'l', " ||,,,,(lf 

"'■ ■■m't.nJluJuJLJ 



but of a larger size than that used in hareems, generally from a 
foot and a half to two feet in length. This is also used by some 
low story-tellers and others. The boatmen employ, as an accom- 
paniment to their earthen drum, a double reed pipe, called " zum- 
marah." There is also another kind of double reed pipe, called 
" arghool," of which one of the reeds is much longer than tlie 
other, and serves as a dx-one or continuous bass. This, likewise, 
is used by boatmen, and sometimes it is employed instead of the 
nay at zikrs. Both of these reed pipes produce harsh sounds, and 
those of the latter much resemble the sounds of the bagpipe. A 



rude kind of bagpipe (" zummarah bi-soan ") is sometimes, but 
rarely, seen in Egypt. Its bag is a small goat-skin. 

I shall now close this chapter with a few specimens of Egyptian 
music, chiefly popular songs. These I note in accordance with 
the manner in which they are commonly sung, without any of the 
embellishments which are added to them by the A'lateeyeh. The 
airs of these are not always sung to the same words, but the words 
are generally similar in style to those .which I insert, or at least as 
silly, though often abounding with indecent metaphors, or with 
plain ribaldry. It should be added that distinct enunciation and a 
quavering voice are charactei'istics of the Egyptian mode of singing. 

SONGS.-No. 1. 

'Eshke niah 

" Doos ya lellee. Doos y;i lellee (three times). 
'Eshke mahboobee fetennee." 

Tread ! O my joj'' ! Tread ! O my joy ! (three times). 
Ardent desire of my beloved hath involved me in trouble. 

(The preceding lines are repeated after each of the following 
stanzas, sometimes as a chorus.) 

"Mil* kullu men namet 'oyoonuh 
Yahsib el-'ashik yenam.f 
Wa-llah ana mtighram sababeh. 
Lem alal-'ashik melum." 

Let not every one whose eyes sleep 
Imagine that the lover sleepeth. 
By Allah ! I am inflamed with intense love. 
The lover is not obnoxious to blame. 

* This line and the first of the next stanza require an additional note, which is the 
same as the last note of these lines, to be added at the commencement. 

t This and some other lines require that the note which should be the last if they 
were of more correct measure be transferred to the commencement of the next line. 

376 MUSIC. 

" Ya Sheykh el-'Arab : Ya Seyyid : 
Tegmaanee 'a-1-kliilli leyleh. 
Wa-n ginee habeebe kalbee 
La-amal lu-1-Kashmeer dulleyleh." 

Sheykh of the Arabs ! O Seyyid ! 
Unite me to the true love one night ! 

And if the beloved of my heart come to me, 

1 will make the Kashmeer shawl her canoi^y. 

"Kamil el-owsaf fetennee 
Wa-l-'oyoon es-sood ramoonee. 
Min hawilhmn sirt aghannee 
Wa-l-hjiwa zowwad gunoonee." 

The perfect in attributes hath involved me in trouble, 
And the black eyes have o'erthrown me. 
From love of them I began to sing, 
And the air * increased my madness. 

"Gema'om gem' al-'awazil 
'An habeeliee yemna'oonee. 
Wa-llah ana ma afoot hawalmm 
Bi-s-suyoof low katta'oonee. " 

The crew of reproachers leagued together 

To debar me from my beloved. 

By Allah ! I will not relinquish the love of them, f 

Though they should cut me in pieces with swords. 

" Kum bi-ne ya khille neskar 
Tahta dill el-yasameeneh : 
Nektuf el-khokh min 'ala ummuh 
Wa-1- "awizil ghalileene. ' 

Up witli us, O true love ! Let us intoxicate ovirselvesj 
Under the shade of the jasmine : 
We will pluck the peach from its mother [tree] 
While the reproachers are unconscious. 

" Ya ben^t goowa-1-medeeneh 
'Andakum ashya temeeneh : 
Telbisu-sh-shdteh bi-loolee 
Wa-l-kiladeh 'a-n-nehdi zeeneh.'' 

O ye damsels in the city ! 

Ye have things of value : 

Ye wear the shiiteh § with pearls, 

And the kiladeh, || an ornament over the bosom. 

* That is, the air of the song. 

+ Namely, the black eyes. 

X The intoxication here meant is that of love, as is generally the case when this ex- 
pression is used in Arab songs. 

§ An ornament described in the Appendix, resembling a necklace of pearls, etc., 
attached on each side of the head-dress. 

!l A kind of long necklace, reaching to the girdle- 



" Y;i benat Iskendereeyeh 
Meshyukum 'a-1-farshi gheeyeh : 
Telbisu-1-Kashmeer bi-tellee 
Wa-sh-shef aif sukkareeyeh. " 

j'e damsels of Alexandria ! 
Your walk over the furniture * is alluring : 
Ye wear the Kashmeer shawl, with laina, 
And your lips are sweet as sugar. 

" Ya milah khafoo min Allah 
\Va-rhamu-l-"ashik li-llah. 
Hobbukum mektoob min Allah : 
Kaddaru-1-Mowla 'alei3'a." 

O ye beauties ! fear God, 

And have mercy on the lover for the sake of God. 

The love of you is ordained by God : 

The Lord hath decreed it against me. 

No. 2. 



Ya - bu ■ I - ge 

1 - fee. Ya - 

^1^ ^l— V — i 

L_ ■ ■ . ^1 >_ 


1 - fee. 


1 - ma 







" Ya-bu-1-gelfee. Ya-bu-1-gelfee. 
Rdh el-mahboob : ma '^d wilfee." 

O thou in the long-sleeved yelek ! O thou in the long-sleeved yelek 1 
The beloved is gone : my companion has not returned. 

" Rah el-mirsal wa-lem gashee : 
Wa-'eyn el-hobb bi-terashee. 
Ya-bu-1-giClif. Ya-bu-1-gelfee. 
Ya reyt'ne ma-nshebeknashee. 
Ya-bu-1-gelfee," etc, 

The messenger went, and has not returned ; 

And the eye of love is glancing. 

O thou with the side-lock ! O thou in the long-sleeved yelek ! 

Would that we had not been ensnared ! 

O thou in the long-sleeved yelek ! etc. 

* The furniture consists of carpets, etc., spread upon tlie floor. 



" Wa-ley ya 'eyn shebekteene 
Wa-bi-1-alhfCz garahteene. 
Ya-bu-1-galif. Ya-bu-1-gelfee. 
Bi-lLihi rikk wa-shfeene, 
Ya-bu-1-gelfee," etc. 

And why, O eye ! hast thon ensnared us, 

And with glances wounded us ? 

O thou with the side-lock ! O thou in the long-sleeved yelek ! 

By Allah ! have coniiDassion, and heal us. 

O thou in the long-sleeved yelek ! etc. 

" Askamten'ee yi habeebee •. 
Wa-ma kasdee ilia tibbak. 
'Asiik ya bedre terhamnee : 
Fa-inna kalbee yehebbak. 
Ya-bu-1-wardee. Ya-bu-1-wardee. 
Habeebe kalbee khaleek 'andee. " 

Thou hast made me ill, O my beloved ! 
And my desire is for nothing but thy medicine. 
Perhaps, O fuU moon ! thou wilt have mercy upon me : 
For verily my heart loveth thee. 

thou in the rose-coloured dress ! O thou in the rose-coloured dress I 
Beloved of my heart ! remain mth me. 

" De-1-hobbe ganee yet'mjCyal : 
Wa-sukre halee gufoonuh. 
Meddeyt eedee akhud el-k.^s : 
Sekirt ana min 'oyoonuh. 
Ya-bu-1-wardee," etc. 

The beloved came to me with a vacillating gait ; 
And her eyelids were the cause of my intoxication. 

1 extended my hand to take the cup ; 
And was intoxicated by her eyes. 

O thou in the rose-coloured dress ! etc. 

No. 3. 







wa-sa - ki - nee ha-bee-bee suk-kar. 



la - yi - lee 


mu-da - meh ne 

"Ma marr wa-sakinee habeebee sukkar. 
Xusf el-liiyilee 'a-l-muddmeh neskar. 
Nedren 'aleiya wa-n ata mahboobee 
La-anial 'amiyil ma 'amilhiish 'Antar." 

My love passed not, but gave me sherbet of sugar to drink. 
For lialf the nights we will intoxicate ourselves with wine. 

s - kar. 

MUSIC. 379 

I vow that, if my beloved come, 
I will do deeds that 'Antar did not. 

' ' Ya binte melesik d^b wa-bent eedeykee 
Wa-khaf 'aleykee min saw^d 'eyneykee. 
Kasdee ana askar wa-boos khaddeykee 
Wa-amal 'amayil ma 'amilhash 'Antar." 

damsel I thy silk shirt is worn out, and thine arms have become visible, 
And I fear for thee, on account of the blackness of thine eyes. 

1 desire to intoxicate myself, and kiss thy cheeks, 
And do deeds that 'Antar did not. 

" Faiteh 'aleiya maliya-1-argeeleh : 
Wa-meiyet el-ma-warde fi-l-argeeleh. 
Ata-bi-1-buneiyeh ';lmilaha heeleh. 
Meta tekul-lee ta'fil ya geda neskai'." 

She is passing by me, and filling the argeeleh ; * 

And there is rose-water in the argeeleh. 

It seems to me the little lass is framing to herself some artifice. 

When will she say to me, " O youth ! come, and let us intoxicate ourselves "? 

"Tool el-lay^lee lem yenkat'a' noohee 
Ala ghaz^l mufrad wa-khad roohee. 
Nedren 'aleiya wa-n ata mahboobee 
La-amal 'am<4yil ma 'amilhash 'Antar," 

Every night long my moaning ceaseth not 

For a solitary gazelle that hath taken away mj^ soul. 

I vow that, if my beloved come, 

I will do deeds that 'Antar did not. 

" Ya dema 'eynee 'a-1-khudeyd men hallak : 
Kal-lee bi-zeedak sh(jk 'ala bo'jidi khillak. 
Irham muteiyam y^ gemeel mashghul-bak. 
Taama 'oyoon ellee ma yehebbak ya-smar." 

tear of my eye ! who drew thee forth over the cheek ? 

It saith, "Thy desire increaseth on account of thy true-love's absence." 
Have mercy upon one enslaved, O beautiful ! and intent upon thee : 
Blinded be the eyes of him who loves thee not, O dark-complexioned ! 

" Asmar wa-h^wi-1-wardeteyni-l-beedi. 
Hobbee takhallak fee lay^li-l-'eedi. 
Nedren 'aleiya wa-n atdnee seedee 
La-amal 'amiCyil m.l 'amilhash 'Antar." 

Dark-complexioned, and with two white roses !t 

My love hath perfimied herself on the nights of the festival. 

1 vow that, if my mistress come to me, 
I will do deeds that 'Antar did not. 

* More commonly called " nargeeleh : " the Persian pipe 

t The dark-complexioned girl has two vMtc roses on her cheeks, instead of red. 



No. 4. 


" 'A'shik ra-a mubtel'ee : kal-luh enta ray eh feyn. 
Wakaf kara kissatiih : bekyum sawa-1-itneyn. 
Rahom le-kadi-l-hiiwa-l-itneyn .siiwa yeshkum. 
Bekyu-t-telateh wa-kaloo hobbeiia rah feyn. 
El-leyl. El-ley]. Ya helw el-ayddee : hfl\vi-l-kh6kh en-ni-Cdee. 
Entum min eyn wa-hna min eyn lemma shebektoone." 

A lover saw another afflicted [in like manner] : he said to him, " Whitlier art 

thou going ? " 
He stojjped and told his story : they both wejat together. 
They went to the kadee of love, both together to comijlain. 
The three wept, and said, "Whither is our love gone ? " 
The night ! the night ! O thou with sweet hands ! gatherer of the dewy 

peach ! 
Whence were ye, and whence were we, when ye ensnared us ? 

" 'A'shik yekul li-1-hamam hat lee genahak yoin. 
Kill el-hamam amrak b.itil : kultu gheyr el-yom : 
Hatta ateer fi-l-go wa-nzur wegh el-mahboob : 
A'khud widad 'am wa-rga' yd ham;tni fee yom. 
El-leyl. El-leyl," etc. 

A lover says to the dove, "Lend me your wings for a day." 

The dove replied, " Thy affair is vain : " I said, " Some other day : 

That I may soar through the sky, and see the face of the beloved : 

I shall obtain love enough for a year, and will return, O dove, in a day." 

The night ! the night ! etc. 


The call to prayer, repeated from the mad'nehs (or menarets) 
of the mosques, I have already mentioned. I have often heai'd 
this call, in Cairo, chanted in the following manner ) and in a 
style more or less similar it is chanted by most of the mueddins 
of this city : — 







Al - hi 

hu ak • bar. 













ak - bar. 




Al - M - hu ak- 



Al ■ h'l 



hu ak - bar. 


Ash - hadu an hi 



ha il-la - 1 - 



Ash - hadu an lii 

^^ , — :^=pi--3czzz:^p:g 


ha il - la-1 - lA 

Ash - hadu 



-«-v — r 



an - na Mo-ham - ina - dar 

ra-soolu - 1 - hth. 



Ash - liadu an - na Mo-liam - nia - dar ra-soolu - 1 

:E^tzdEtr— -I 









Hei - ya 'a - la-s - sa - Mh. 


Hei - ya 'a las 













Hei - ya 'a - la-1 

fe - liih. 



Hei - ya 'a - la-1 - fe - M 



Al - lit 

hu ak - 






Al - Li 

hu ak - bar. 


-*— .^i 


i - M 

ha i - 1 

la-1 - Mh. 


The following is inserted with the view of conveying some 
notion of the mode in which the Kur-an is commonly chanted 
in Egypt. The portion here selected is that which is most 
frequently repeated — namely, the " Fat'hah," or first chapter. 






Bi-.smi-l - M - hi-r - rah-m^ - ni-r - ra - heeni. 






hamdu li-1 - M 

hi rab 

bi-1 - '& 

la - mee 

na-r - rah - 









m^ - ni-r - ra - hee - mi m^ - li-ki yow - mi-d-deen. 


^ L=^ 


i^=^^-l^— ?- 


ya - ka naa - bu-doo wa - ee - yi, - ka nesta - 'een. 


Ihdi • 


-I — ^~t- 

na-s - si - ra - ta-1 - mus - ta - kee - ma si - ra - ta-1 - le zee - na an - 




ta 'a - lei - him ghei - ri-l-maghdoo - bi 'a - lei - him wa-la-d- 





A - meen. 



Egypt has long been celebrated for its public dancing-girls, the 
most famous of whom are of a distinct tribe called " Ghawazee."-^ 
A female of this tribe is called " Ghazeeyeh," and a man 
" Ghazee ; " but the plural Ghawazee is generally understood as 
applying to the females. The error into which most travellers 
in Egypt have fallen, of confounding the common dancing-girls 
of this country with the A'l'mehs, who are female singers, has 
already been exposed. The Ghawazee perform unveiled in the 
public streets, even to amuse the rabble. Their dancing has little 
of elegance. They commence with a degree of decorum ; but 
soon, by more animated looks, by a more rapid collision of their 
castanets of brass, and by increased energy in every motion, they 
exhibit a spectacle exactly agreeing with the descriptions which 
Martial and Juvenal have given of the performances of the 
female dancers of Gades. The dress in which they generally thus 


exhibit in j^nblic is similar to that which is woi'n by women of the 
middle classes in Egypt in private — that is in the hareem — con- 
sisting of a yelek, or an 'anter'ee, and the shintiyan, etc., of hand- 
some materials. They also wear various ornaments ; their eyes 
are bordered with the kohl (or black collyrium), and the tips 
of their fingers, the palms of their hands, and their toes and other 
parts of their feet, are usually stained with the red dye of the 
henna, according to the general custom of the middle and higher 
classes of Egyptian women. In general they are accompanied 
by musicians (mostly of the same tribe), whose instruments are 
the kemengeh, or the rabab, and the tar, or the darabukkeh and 
zummarah, or the zemr. The tar is usually in tlie hands of an old 

The Ghawazee often perform in the court of a house, or in the 
street, before the door, on certain occasions of festivity in the 
hareem — as, for instance, on the occasion of a marriage, or the 
birth of a child. They are never admitted into a respectable 
hareem, but are not unfrequently hired to entertain a party of 
men in the house of some rake. In this case, as might be ex- 
pected, their performances are yet more lascivious than those 
which I have already mentioned. Some of them, when they 
exhibit before a private party of men, wear nothing but the 
shintiyan (or trousers) and a t5b (or very full shirt or gown) of 
semi-transparent, coloured gauze, open nearly half-way down the 
front. To extinguish the least spark of modesty which they may 
yet sometimes affect to retain, they are plentifully supplied with 
brandy or some other intoxicating liquor. The scenes wdiich 
ensue cannot be desci'ibed. 

I need scarcely add that these women are the most abandoned 
of the courtesans of Egypt. Many of them are extremely hand- 
some, and most of them are richly dressed. Upon the whole, I 
think they are the finest women in Egypt. JNIany of them have 
slightly aquiline noses ; but in most respects they resemble the 
rest of the females of this country, "Women as well as men take 
delight in witnessing their performances ; but many persons among 
the higher classes, and the more religious, disapprove of them. 

The Ghawazee being distinguished, in general, by a cast of 
countenance differing, though slightly, from the rest of the 



Egyptians, we can hai'cUy doubt that they are, as themselves 
assert, a distinct race. Their origin, however, is involved in much 
uncertainty. They call themselves " Baramikeh '' or " Bar- 
mek'ees," and boast that they are descended from the famous 
family of that name who were the objects of the favour, and 
afterwards of the capricious tyranny, of Haroon Er-Rasheed, and 
of' whom we read in several of the tales of '• The Thousand and 


One Nights ; " but, as a friend of mine lately observed to me, 
they probably have no more right to call themselves " Baramikeh " 
than because they resemble that family in liberality, though it 
is liberality of a different kind. In many of the tombs of the 
ancient Egyptians we find representations of females dancing at 
private entertainments, to the sounds of various instruments, in 
a manner similar to the modern Ghawazee, but even more licen- 

(440) 25 


tious; one or more of these performers being generally depicted 
in a state of perfect nudity, though in the presence of men and 
women of high stations. This mode of dancing Ave find, from the 
monuments here alluded to, most of which bear the names of 
kinjs which prove their age, to have been common in Egypt in 
very remote times, even before the exodus of the Israelites. 
It is probable, therefore, that it has continued without interrup- 
tion ] and perhaps the modern Ghawazee are descended from the 
class of female dancers who amused the Egyptians in the times 
of the early Pharaohs. Erom the similarity of the Spanish 
fandango to the dances of the Ghawazee, we might infer that it 
was introduced into Spain by the Arab conquerors of that 
country, were we not informed that the Gaditana?, or females of 
Gades (now called Cadiz), were famous for such performances in 
the times of the early Roman emperors. However, though it 
hence appears that the licentious mode of dancing here described 
has so long been practised in Spain, it is not improbable that it 
was originally introduced into Gades from the East, perhaps l>y the 

The Ghawazee mostly keep theujselves distinct from other 
classes, abstaining from marriages with any but persons of their 
own tribe ; but sometimes a Ghazeeyeh makes a vow of repent- 
ance, and marries a respectaljle Arab, who is not generally con- 
sidered as disgraced by such a connection. All of them are 
brought up for the venal profession, but not all as dancei's ; and 
most of them marry, though they never do this until they have 
commenced their career of venality. The husband is subject to 
the wife. He performs for her the offices of a servant and pro- 
curer, and generally, if she be a dancer, he is also her musician ; 
but a few of the )nen earn their subsistence as blacksmiths or 
tinkers. Most of the Ghazeeyehs welcome the lowest peasant, if 
he can pay even a very trifling sum. Though some of them are 
possessed of considerable wealth, costly ornaments, etc., many of 
their customs are similar to those of the people whom Ave call 
"gipsies," and Avho are supposed by some to be of Egyptian 
origin. It is remarkaljle that the gipsies in Egypt often pretend 

* From the effect which it produced it is probable that the dance performed by the 
daughter of Herodias was of the kind here described. (See Matt. xiv. 6, 7, or Mark vi. 
22, 23.) 


to be descended from a branch of the same family to whom the 
Ghawazee refer their origin ; but their claim is still less to be 
regarded than that of the latter, because they do not unanimously 
agree on this point. I shall have occasion to speak of them more 
particularly in the next chapter. The ordinary language of the 
Ghawazee is the same as that of the rest of the Egyptians ; but 
they sometimes make use of a number of words peculiar to them- 
selves, in order to render their speech unintelligible to strangers. 
They are, professedly, of the Muslim faith, and often some of 
them accompany the Egyptian caravan of pilgrims to INIekkeh. 
Thei'e are many of them in almost every large town in Egypt, 
inhabiting a distinct portion of the quai'ter allotted to public 
women in general. Their ordinary habitations are low huts, or 
temporary sheds, or tents ; for they often move from one town to 
another. But some of them settle themselves in large houses ; and 
many possess black female slaves (by whose prostitution they 
increase their property), and camels, asses, cows, etc., in which 
they trade. They attend the camps, and all the great religious 
and other festivals ; of which they are, to many persons, the chief 
attractions. Numerous tents of Ghazeeyehs are seen on these 
occasions. Some of these women add, to their other allurements, 
the art of singing, and equal the ordinary 'Awalim. Those of 
the lower class dress in the same manner as other low j)rostitutes. 
Some of them wear a gauze tob, over another shirt, with the 
shintiyan, and a crape or muslin tarhah ; and in general they 
deck themselves with a profusion of ornaments, as necklaces, 
bracelets, anklets, a row of gold coins over the forehead, and 
.sometimes a nose-ring. All of them adorn themselves with the 
kohl and henna. There are some other dancing-girls and courte- 
sans who call themselves Ghawazee, but who do not really belong 
to that tribe. 

Many of the people of Cairo, affecting, or persuading them- 
selves, to consider that there is nothing improper in the dancing 
of the Ghawazee but the fact of its being performed by females, 
who ought not thus to expose themselves, employ men to dance 
in the same manner ; but the number of these male performers, 
who are mostly young men, and who are called " Khawals," is 
very small. They are Muslims, and natives of Egypt. As they 


personate women, their dances are exactly of the same description 
as those of the Ghawazee, and are, in like manner, accompanied 
by the sounds of castanets ; Init, as if to prevent their being 
thought to be really females, their dress is suited to their un- 
natural profession, being partly male and partly female. It 
chiefly consists of a tight vest, a girdle, and a kind of petticoat. 
Their general appearance, however, is more feminine than mascu- 
line. They suffer the hair of the head to grow long, and generally 
braid it, in the manner of the women. The hair on the face, when 
it begins to grow, they pluck out ; and they imitate the women 
also in applying kohl and henna to their eyes and hands. In the 
streets, when not engaged in dancing, they often even veil their 
faces ; not from shame, but merely to affect the manners of 
women. They are often employed, in preference to the Ghawazee, 
to dance before a house, or in its court, on the occasion of a 
marriage;/eie, or the birth of a child, or a circumcision ; and 
frequently perform at public festivals. 

There is in Cairo another class of male dancers, young men 
and boys, whose performances, dress, and general appearance are 
almost exactly similar to those of the Khawals, but who are 
distinguished by a different appellation, which is "Gink" — a term 
that is Turkish, and has a vulgar signification which aptly 
expresses their chai'acter. They are generally Jews, Armenians, 
Greeks, and Turks. 



Many modern writers upon Egypt have given surprising accounts 
of a class of men in this country, supposed, like the ancient 
"Psylli" of Cyrenaica, to possess a secret art, to which allusion 
is made in the Bible, enabling them to secure themselves from 
the poison of serpents. (.See Ps. Iviii. 4, 5; Eccles. x. 11 ; Jer. 
viii. 17.) I have met with many persons among the more intel- 
ligent of the Egyptians who condemn these modern Psylli as 



impostors, but none who have been able to ofter a satisfactory 
explanation of the most common and most interesting of their 
performances, which I am about to describe. 

Many Rifa'ee and Saadee darweeshes obtain their livelihood, as 
I have mentioned on a former occasion, by going about to charm 


away serpents from houses. A few other persons also profess the 
same art, but are not so famous. The former travel over every 
part of Egypt, and find abundant employment ; but their gains 
are barely sufficient to procure them a scanty subsistence. The 
charmer professes to discover, without ocular perception (but 
perhaps he does so by a peculiar smell), whether there be any 


serpents in a house ; and if there be, to attract them to him, as 
the fowler, by the fascination of his voice, allures the bird into his 
net. As the serpent seeks the darkest place in which to hide 
himself, the charmer has, in most cases, to exercise his skill in an 
obscure chamber, where he might easily take a serpent from his 
bosom, bring it to the people without the door, and affirm that he 
had found it in the apartment ; for no one would venture to enter 
with him after having been assured of the presence of one of these 
reptiles within. But he is often required to perform in the full 
light of day, surrounded by spectators ; and incredulous persons 
have searched him beforehand, and even stripped him naked, yet 
his success has been complete. He assumes an air of mystery, 
strikes the walls with a short jialm stick, whistles, makes a cluck- 
ing noise with his tongue, and spits upon the ground ; and 
generally says, " I adjure you by God, if ye be above, or if ye be 
below, that ye come forth. I adjure you by the most great Name, 
if ye be obedient, come forth ; and if ye be disobedient, die ! 
die 1 die ! " The serpent is generally dislodged by his stick from 
a fissure in the wall, or drops from the ceiling of the room. I 
have often heard it asserted that the serpent-charmer, before he 
enters a house in which he is to try his skill, always employs a 
servant of that house to introduce one or more serpents ; but I 
have known instances in which this could not be the case, and 
am inclined to believe that the darweeshes above mentioned are 
generally acquainted with some real physical means of discovering 
the presence of serpents without seeing them, and of attracting 
them from their lurking-places. It is, however, a fact well as- 
certained that the most expert of them do not venture to cany 
serpents of a venomous natui-e about their persons until they have 
extracted the poisonous teeth. Many of them carry scorpions, 
also, within the cap, and next the shaven head ; but doubtless 
first deprive them of the power to injure, perhaps by merely 
blunting the sting. Their famous feats of eating live and venom- 
ous serpents, which are regarded as religious acts, I have before 
had occasion to mention, and purpose to describe particularly in 
another chapter. 

Performers of sleight-of-hand tricks, who are called " Howah " 
(in the singular, " Ha wee "), are numerous in Cairo. They 


generally perform in public places, collecting a ring of spectators 
around them, from some of whom they receive small voluntary 
contributions during and after their performances. They are 
most frequently seen on the occasions of public festivals, but 
often also at other times. By indecent jests and actions, they 
attract as much applause as they do by other means. The 
" Hawee " performs a great variety of tricks, the most usual of 
which I shall here mention. He generally has two boys to assist 
him. From a large leather bag he takes oiat four or five snakes 
of a largish size. One of these he places on the ground, and 
makes it erect its head and part of its body ; another he puts 
round the head of one of the boys, like a turban ; and two more 
over the boy's neck. He takes these off; opens the boy's mouth, 
apparently passes the bolt of a kind of padlock through his cheek, 
and locks it. Then, in appearance, he forces an iron spike into 
the boy's throat — the spike being really pushed uj) into a wooden 
handle. He also performs another trick of the same kind as this : 
placing the boy on the ground, he puts the edge of a knife upon 
his nose, and knocks the blade until half its width seems to have 
entered. Several indecent tricks which he performs with the boy 
I must abstain from describing ; some of them are abominably 
disgusting. The tricks which he alone performs are more amus- 
ing. He draws a great quantity of various-coloured silk from his 
mouth, and winds it on his arm ; puts cotton in his mouth, and 
blows out fii'e ; takes out of his mouth a great number of round 
pieces of tin, like dollai's ; and, in appearance, blows an earthen 
pipe-bowl from his nose. In most of his tricks he occasionally 
blows through a lai'ge shell (called the Hawee's zumniarah), pro- 
ducing sounds like those of a horn. Most of his sleight-of-hand 
performances are nearly similar to those of exhibiters of the same 
class in our own and other countries. Taking a silver finger-ring 
from one of the bystanders, he puts it in a little box, blows his 
shell, and says, " 'Efreet, change it ! " He then opens the box, and 
shows in it a different ring : shuts the box again ; opens it, and 
shows the first ring : shuts it a third time ; opens it, and shows a 
melted lump of silver, which he declares to be the ring melted, 
and offers to the owner. The latter insists upon having his ring in 
its original state. The Hdwee then asks for five or ten faddalis to 


recast it ; and liaving obtained this, opens the box again (after 
having closed it, and blown his shell), and takes out of it the 
perfect ring. He next takes a larger covered box ; puts the skull- 
cap of one of his boys in it ; blows his shell ; opens the box ; and 
out comes a rabbit : the cap seems to be gone. He puts the 
rabbit in again ; covers the box ; uncovers it ; and out run two 
little chickens : these he puts in again ; blows his shell ; uncovers 
the box ; and shows it full of fateerehs (or pancakes) and kun.'ifeh 
(which resembles vermicelli) : he tells his boys to eat its contents ; 
but they refuse to do it without honey : he then takes a small jug ; 
turns it upside-down, to show that it is empty ; blows his shell ; 
and hands round the jug full of honey. The boys having eaten, 
ask for water to wash their hands. The Hawee takes the same 
jug ; and hands it filled with water, in the same manner. He 
takes the box again ; and asks for the cap ; blows his shell ; 
uncovers the box : and pours out from it, into the boy's lap (the 
lower part of his shirt held up), four or five small snakes. The 
boy, in apparent fright, throws them down, and demands his cap. 
The Hawee puts the snakes back into the box ; blows his shell ; 
uncovers the box ; and takes out the cap. Another of his common 
tricks is to put a number of slips of white paper into a tinned 
copper vessel (the tisht of a seller of sherbet), and to take them 
out dyed of various colours. He pours water into the same 
vessel ; puts in a piece of linen ; then gives to the spectators, to 
drink, the contents of the vessel, changed to sherbet of sugai\ 
Sometimes he apparently cuts in two a muslin shawl, or burns it 
in the middle ; and then restores it whole. Often he strips 
himself of all his clothes, excepting his drawers ; and tells two 
persons to bind him, hands and feet, and put him in a sack. This 
done, he asks for a piaster ; and some one tells him that he shall 
have it if he will put out his hand and take it. He puts out his 
hand free ; draAvs it back ; and is then taken out of the sack 
bound as at first. He is put in again ; and comes out unbound — 
handing to the spectators a small ti'ay, upon which are four or 
five little plates filled with A'arious eatables, and, if the perform- 
ance be at night, several small lighted candles placed around. 
The spectators eat the food. 

There is another class of jugglers in Cairo called " Keeyem " 



(in the singular, '• Keivim "). In most of his performances the 
Keiyim has an assistant. In one, for instance, the latter places 
upon the ground twenty-nine small j^ieces of stone. He sits ujion 
the ground, and these are arranged before him. The Keiyim 
Jiaving gone a few yards distant from him, this assistant desires 
one of the spectators to place a piece of money under any one of 
the bits of stone. This being done, he calls back the Keiyim, 
informs him that a piece of money has been bidder , and asks him 
to point out where it is ; which the conjurer immediately does. 
The secret of this trick is very simple : the twenty-nine pieces of 
stone represent the letters of the Arabic alphabet, and the person 
who desires the Keiyim to show where the money is concealed 
commences his address to the latter with the letter represented by 
the stone which covers the coin. In the same manner, or by 
means of signs made by the assistant, the Keiyim is enabled to 
tell the name of any person present, or the words of a song that 
has been repeated in his absence, the name or song having been 
whispered to his assistant. 

Fortune-telling is often practised in Egypt, mostly by Gipsies, 
as in our own country. There are but few Gipsies in this country. 
They are here called " Ghagar "' or " Ghajar " (in the singular, 
" Ghagaree " or " Ghajaree "). In general, they profess themselves 
descendants of the Baramikeh, like the Ghawazee, but of a 
diflferent branch. Many (I Vjelieve most) of the women ai'e 
fortune-tellers. These women are often seen in the streets of 
Cairo, dressed in a similar manner to the generality of the females 
of the lower classes, with the tob and tarhah, but always with 
unveiled faces ; usually carrying a gazelle's skin, containing the 
materials for their divinations, and crying, " I perform divination ! 
What is present I manifest ! What is absent I manifest ! " etc. 
They mostly divine by means of a number of shells, with a few 
pieces of coloured glass, money, etc., intermixed with them. 
These they throw down, and from the manner in which they 
chance to lie they derive their prognostications. A larger shell 
than the rest represents the person whose fortune they are to 
discover; and the other shells, etc., represent different events, 
evils and blessings, which, by their proximity to or distance 
from the former, they judge to be fated to befall the person in 


question early or late or never. Some of these Gipsy women also 
cry, "Nedukk wa-n'taLir ! " ("We puncture and circumcise!"). 
Many of the Gipsies in Egypt are blacksmiths, hraziers, and 
tinkers, or itinerant sellers of the wares which are made by others 
of this class, particularly of trumpery trinkets of brass, etc. 

Some Gipsies also follow the occupation of a "Bahluwan." 
This appellation is properly given to a performer of gymnastic 
exercises, a fa nous swordsman, or a champion ; and such descrip- 
tions of persons formerly exhibited their feats of strength and 
dexterity under this name in Cairo ; but the performances of the 
modern Bahluwan are almost confined to rope-dancing, and all 
the persons who practise this art are Gipsies. Sometimes the 
rope is tied to the mad'neh of a mosque, at a considerable height 
from the ground, and extends to the length of sevei-al hundred 
feet, being supported at many points by poles fixed in the ground. 
The dancer always uses a long balancing-pole. Sometimes he 
dances or walks on the rope with clogs on his feet, or with a piece 
of soap tied under each foot, or with a child suspended to each 
of his ankles by a rope, or with a boy tied to each end of the 
balancing-pole ; and he sits upon a round ti-ay placed on the rope. 
I have only seen three of these Bahluwans, and their performances 
were not of the more difficult kinds above described, and less 
clever than those of the commonest rope-dancers in England- 
Women, girls, and boys often follow this occupation. The men 
and boys also perform other feats than those of rope-dancing — 
such as tumbling, leaping through a hoop, etc. 

The "Kureydatee" (whose appellation is derived from " kird," 
an ape or a monkey) anmses the lower orders in Cairo by sundry 
performances of an ape or a monkey, an ass, a dog, and a kid. 
He and the ape (which is generally of the cynocephalus kind) 
fiidit each other with sticks. He dresses the ape fantastically, 
usually as a bride or a veiled woman, puts it on the ass, and 
parades it round within the ring of spectators, himself going 
before and beating a tambourine. The ape is also made to 
dance, and perform various antics. The ass is told to choose the 
handsomest girl in the ring ; and does so, putting his nose towards 
her face, and greatly amusing her and all the spectators. The 
dog is ordered to imitate the motions of a thief ; and accordingly 


crawls along on its belly. The best performance is that of the 
kid : it is made to stand upon a little piece of wood, nearly in the 
shape of a dice-box, about a span long, and an inch and a half 
wide at the top and bottom, so that all its four feet are placed 
close together; this piece of wood, with the kid thus standing 
upon it, is then lifted up, and a similar piece placed under it ; 
and, in the same manner, a third piece, a fourth, and a fifth are 

The Egyptians are often amused by players of low and ridicu- 
lous farces, who are called " Mohabbazeen." These frequently 
perform at the festivals prior to weddings and circumcisions, at 
the houses of the great ; and sometimes attract rings of auditors 
and spectators in the public places in Cairo. Their performances 
are scarcely worthy of description ; it is chiefly by vulgar jests 
and indecent actions that they amuse and obtain applause. The 
actors are only men and boys, the part of a woman being always 
performed by a man or a boy in female attire. As a specimen 
of their plays, I shall give a short account of one which was 
acted before the Basha a short time ago, at a festival celebrated 
in honour of the circumcision of one of his sons ; on which 
occasion, as usual, several sons of grandees were also circumcised. 
The dramatis personce were a Nazir (or Governor of a District), a 
Sheykh-Beled (or Chief of a Village), a servant of the latter, a 
Copt clerk, a Fellah indebted to the government, liis wife, and 
five other persons, of whom two made their appearance first in 
the character of drummers, one as hautboy-player, and the two 
others as dancers. After a little drumming and piping and danc- 
ing by these five, the Nazir and the rest of the performers enter 
the ring. The Nazir asks, " How much does 'Awad the son of 
Regeb owe 1 " The musicians and dancers, wlio now act as simple 
fellaheen, answer, "Desire the Christian to look in the register." 
The Christian clerk has a large dawayeh (or receptacle for pens 
and ink) in his girdle, and is dressed as a Copt, with a black 
turban. The Sheykh el-Beled asks him, "How much is written 
against 'Awad the son of Regeb 1 " The clerk answers, " A 
thousand piasters." '"How much," says the Sheykh, "has he 
paid?" He is answered, "Five piasters." "Man," says he, 
addressing the fellah, " why don't you bring the money 1 " The 


fellah answers, "I have not any." "You have not any?" ex- 
claims the Sheykh. " Throw him down." An inflated piece of 
an intestine, resembling a large kurbag, is brought, and with this 
the fellah is beaten. He roars out to the Kazir, " By the honour 
of thy horse's tail, O Bey ! By the honour of thy wife's trousers, 
O Bey! By the honour of thy wife's head -band, O Bey!" 
After twenty such absurd appeals his beating is finished, and he 
is taken away and imprisoned. Presently his wife comes to him 
and asks him, " How art thou % " He answers, " Do me a kind- 
ness, my Avife : take a little kishk and some eggs and some 
sha'eereeyeh, and go with them to the house of the Christian 
chn-k, and appeal to his generosity to get me set at liberty." She 
takes these in three baskets to the Christian's house, and asks 
the people there, " Where is the M'allim Hanna, the clerk % " 
They answer, "There he sits." She says to him, "O M'allim 
Hanna, do me the favour to receive these, and obtain the libera- 
tion of my husband." "Who is thy husband?" he asks. She 
answers, "The fellah who owes a thousand piasters." "Bring," 
says he, " twenty or thirty piasters to bribe the Sheyk el-Beled." 
She goes away, and soon returns with the money in her hand, 
and gives it to the Sheykh el-Beled. " What is this ?" says the 
Sheykh. She answers, " Take it as a bribe, and liberate my 
husband." He says, "Yeiy well; go to the Nazir." She retires 
for a while, blackens the edges of her eyelids with kohl, applies 
fresh red dye of the henna to her hands and feet, and repairs 
to the Nazii\ " Good-evening, my master," she says to him. 
" What dost thou Avant?" he asks. She answers, " I am the wife 
of 'A wad, who owes a thousand piasters." "But what dost thou 
want?" he asks again. She says, "My husband is imprisoned, 
and I appeal to thy generosity to liberate him ; " and as she urges 
this request she smiles, and shows him that she does not ask this 
favour without being willing to grant him a i-ecompense. He 
obtains this ; takes the husband's part, and liberates him. — This 
farce was played before the Basha with the view of opening his 
eyes to the conduct of those persons to Avhom Avas committed the 
office of collecting the taxes. 

The puppet-shoAv of " Kara Gyooz " has been introduced into 
Egypt by Turks, in Avhose language the puppets are made to 


speak. Their pei-formances, which are in general extremely 
indecent, occasionally amuse the Turks residing in Cairo ; but, of 
course, are not very attractive to those who do not understand the 
Turkish language. They are conducted in the manner of the 
"Chinese shadows," and therefore only exhibited at night. 



The Egyptians are not destitute of better diversions than those 
described in the preceding chapter. Reciters of romances frequent 
the principal kahwehs (or cofFee-shops) of Cairo and other towns, 
particularly on the evenings of religious festivals, and aftbrd 
attractive and rational entertainments. Tlie reciter generally 
seats himself upon a small stool on the mastab'ah, or raised seat, 
which is built against the front of the coffee-shop : some of his 
auditors occupy the rest of that seat, others arrange themselves 
upon the mastab'ahs of the houses on the opposite side of the 
narrow street, and the rest sit upon stools or benches made of 
palm sticks — most of them with the pipe in hand, some sipping 
their coffee, and all highly amused, not only with the story, but 
also with the lively and dramatic manner of the narrator. The 
reciter receives a trifling sum of money from the keeper of the 
coffee-shop, for attracting customers : his hearers are not obliged 
to contribute anything for his remuneration ; many of them give 
nothing, and few give more than five or ten faddahs. 

The most numerous class of reciters is that of the persons 
called " Sh6'ara " (in the singular "Sha'er," which properly signi- 
fies a poet^. They are also called " Aboo-Zeydeeyeh," or " Aboo- 
Zeydees," from the subject of their recitations, which is a romance 
entitled " The Life of Aboo-Zeyd " (" Seeret Aboo-Zeyd "). The 
number of these Sho'ara in Cairo is about fifty, and they recite 
nothing but the adventures related in the romance of Aboo-Zeyd. 

This romance is said to have been founded upon events which 
happened in the middle of the third century of the Flight, and is 
believed to have been written not long after that period ; but it 


Avas certainly composed at a much latei* time, unless it have been 
greatly altered in transcription. It is usually found in ten or 
more small quarto volumes. It is half prose and half poetry ; half 
narrative and half dramatic. As a literary composition it has 
little merit, at least in its present state ; hut as illustrative of the 
manners and customs of the Bedawees, it is not without value 
and interest. The heroes and heroines of the romance, who are 
mostly natives of Central Arabia and El- Yemen, but some of 
them of El-Gharb, or ISTorthern Africa, which is called " the West," 
with reference to Arabia, generally pour forth their most animated 
sentiments, their addresses and soliloquies, in verse. The verse 
is not measured, though it is the opinion of some of the learned in 
Cairo that it was originally conformed to the prescribed measures 
of poetry, and that it has been altered by copyists; still, when 
read, as it always is, almost entirely in the popular (not the 
literary) manner, it is pleasing in sound, as it also often is in 
matter. Almost every piece of poetry begins and ends with an 
invocation of blessings on the Prophet. 

The Sha'er always commits his subject to memory, and recites 
without book. The poetry he chants ; and after every verse he 
plays a few notes on a viol Avhich has but a single cord, and 
which is called " the poet's viol," or " the Aboo-Zeydee viol," 
from its only being used in these recitations. It has been de- 
scribed in a former chapter. The reciter generally has an attend- 
ant with another instrument of this kind to accompany him. 
Sometimes a single note serves as a prelude and interlude. To 
convey some idea of the style of a Sha'er's music, I insert a few 
notes of the commencement of a chant : — 

#:fe^-p 55= _, 

f^-^^ — FT— ^-n— 

•7 1 

ke - ret 

mjC kad g.ara mst beyn neg - a Hi - Ml. 



Some of the reciters of Aboo-Zeyd are distinguished by the 
appellations of " Hilaleeyeh " (or Hilalees), " Zaghabeh," or 
"Zughbeeyeh" (or Zughbees), and "Zinateeyeh" (or Zinatees), 
from their chiefly confining themselves to the narration of the 
exploits of heroes of the Hilalee, Zughbee, or Zinatee tribes, cele- 
brated in this romance. 

As a specimen of the tale of Aboo-Zeyd, I shall here offer an 
abstract of the principal contents of the first volume, which I 
have carefully read for this purpose. 

Aboo-Zeyd, or as he was first more generally called, Barakat, 
was an Arab of the tribe called Benee-Hilal or El- Hilaleeyeh. 
Before his birth, his father, the Emeer Rizk (who was the son of 
Xad, a paternal uncle of Sarhan, the king of the Benee-Hilal), 
had married ten wives, from whom, to his great grief, he liad 
obtained but two children, both of them daughters, named 
Sheehah and 'Ateemeh, until one of his wives, the Emeereh 
Gellas, increased his distress b}' bearing him a son without arms 
or legs. Shortly before the birth of this son, tlie Emeer Bizk 
(having divorced, at different times, such of his wives as pleased 
him least, as he could not have more than four at one time, and 
having at last retained only tliree) married an eleventh wife, the 
Emeereh Khadra, daughter of Karda, the Shereef of Mekkeh. 
He was soon rejoiced to find that Khadra showed signs of be- 
coming a mother ; and in the hope that the expected child would 
be a son, invited the Emeer Ghanim, chief of the tribe of Ez- 
Zaghabeh or Ez-Zughbeeyeh, with a large company of his family 
and tribe, to come from their district and honour with their 
presence the festival which he hoped to have occasion to celebrate. 
These friends complied with his invitation, became his guests, and 
waited for the birth of the child. 

Meanwhile, it happened that the Emeereh Khadra, walking 
with the Emeereh Shemmeh, a wife of King Sarhan, and a 
number of other females, saw a black bird attack and kill a 
numerous flock of birds of various kinds and hues, and, astonished 
at the sight, earnestly prayed God to give her a son like this 
bird, even though he should be black. Her prayer was answered : 
she gave birth to a black boy. The Emeer Rizk, though he could 
not believe this to be his own son, was reluctant to put away the 

(440) 26 


mother, from the excessive love he bore her. He had only heard 
the women s description of the child ; he would not see it himself, 
nor allow any other man to see it, until the seventh day after its 
birth. For six days his guests were feasted ; and on the seventh, 
or " yom es-subooa," a more sumptuous banquet was prepared ; 
after which, according to custom, the child was brought before the 
guests. A female slave carried it upon a silver tray, and covered 
over with a handkerchief. When the guests, as usual in such 
cases, had given their nukoot (or contributions) of gold and silver 
coins, one of them lifted up the handkerchief, and saw that the 
child was as the women had represented it. The Emeer Rizk, 
who had stood outside the tent while this ceremony was performed, 
in great distress of mind, was now sharply upbraided by most of 
his friendrs for wishing to hide his supposed disgrace, and to retain 
an unchaste woman as his wife. He was very reluctantly compelled 
to put her away, that his tribe might not be held in dishonour on 
her account; and accordingly despatched her, with her child, 
under the conduct of a sheykh named Muneea, to return to her 
father's house at JMekkeh, She departed thither, accompanied also 
by a number of slaves, her husband's property, avIio determined 
to remain witli her, being allowed to do so by the Emeer E,izk. 

On the journey, the party pitched their tents in a valley ; and 
here the Emeereh Ivhadra begged her conductor to allow her to 
remain, for she feared to go back, under such circumstances, to 
her father's house. But the Emeer Fadl Ibn-Beysem, chief of 
the tribe of Ez-Zalilan, with a company of horsemen, chanced to 
fall in with her party during her conversation with the sheykli 
Muneea, and having heard her story, determined to take her 
under his protection. Returning to his encampment, he sent his 
wife, the Emeereh Laag El-Baheeyeli, to conduct her and the 
child thither, together with the slaves. The Emeer Eadl adopted 
her child as his own ; brought him up Avith his own two sons ; 
and treated him with the fondness of a father. The young 
Barakat soon gave promise of his becoming a hero : he killed 
his schoolmastfi", by severe beating, for attempting to chastise one 
of his adoptive brothers ; and became the terror of all his school- 
fellows. His adoptive father procured another fikee for a school- 
master ; but Barakat's presence frightened his schoolfellows from 


attending, and the fikee thei'efore instructed him at home. At 
the age of eleven years, he had acquired proficiency in all the 
sciences, human and divine, then studied in Arabia, including 
astrology, magic, alchemy, and a variety of other branches of 

Barakat now went, by the advice of the fikee, to ask a present 
of a horse from his adoptive father; who answered his "Good- 
morning " by saying, " Good-morning, my son, and dearer than 
my son." Surprised at this expression, the youth went to his 
mother, and asked her if the Emeer Fadl were not really his 
father. She told him that this chief was his uncle, and tliat his 
father was dead — that he had been killed by a Hilalee Arab, 
called Ptizk the son of Nail. Becoming warmed and inspired by 
the remembrance of her wrongs, she then more fully related her 
case to her son in a series of verses. Of this piece of poetry I shall 
venture to insert a translation, made verse for verse, and with the 
same neglect of measure that is found in the original, which I 
also imitate in carrying on the same rhyme throughout the whole 
piece, in accordance with the common practice of Arab poets : — 

"Thus did Khadra, reflecting on what had past 
'Mid the tents of Hilal, her talc relate. 

' O Emeer Barakat, hear what I tell thee, 

And think not my story is idle prate. 
Thy father was Beysem, Beysem's son, 

Thine uncle Fadl's brother : youth of valour innate ! 
And thy father was wealthy above his fellows; 

None other could boast such a rich estate. 
As a pilgrim to Mekkeh he journeyed, and there, 

In my father's house, a guest he sate : 
He sought me in marriage ; attained his wish ; 

And made me his loved and wedded mate ; 
For thy father had never been blessed with a son, 

And had often bewailed his unhappy fate. 
One day to a spring with some friends I went, 

When the chiefs had met at a banquet of state ; 
And amusing ourselves with the sight of the water, 

We saw numberless birds there congregate : 
Some were white, and roinid as the moon at the full ; 

Some with plumage of red ; some small, some great ; 
Some were black, my son ; and some were tall — 

They comprised all kinds that God doth create. 
Though our party of women came unawares, 

The birds did not fear us, nor separate ; 


But soon from the vault of the sky descending, 

A black-pkmied bird, of enormous weight, 
Pounced on the others, and killed them all. 

To God I cried : O Coni])assionate ! 
Thou Living ! Eternal ! I pray, for the sake 

Of the Excellent Prophet, thy delegate, 
Grant me a son like this noble bird. 

E'en should he be black, thou Considerate ! — 
Thou wast formed in my womb, and wast born, my son ; 

And all thy relations, with joy elate. 
And thy father among them, paid honour to me. 

But soon did oiTr happiness terminate : 
The chiefs of Hilal attacked our tribe ; 

And Rizk, among them, precipitate. 
Fell on thy father, my son, and slew liim ; 

Then seized on his wealth, his whole estate. 
Thine uncle received me, his relative, 

And thee as his son to educate. 
God assist thee to take our blood-revenge. 

And the tents of Hilal to desolate. 
But keep closely secret what I have told thee, 

Be mindful to no one tins tale to relate ; 
Thine uncle might grieve, so 'tis fit that with patience, 

In hope of attaining thy wish, thou shouldst wait." 

Thus did Khadra address her son Barakitt, 

Thus her case with artful deception state. 
Now beg we forgiveness of all our sins, 

Of God the Exalted, the Sole, the Great ; 
And join me, my hearers, in blessing the Prophet, 

The guide, whose praise we should celebrate." 

Barakat, excited by this tale, became engrossed with the desire 
of slaying his own father, whom he was made to believe to be his 
fatlier's murderer. 

His adoptive father gave him his best horse, and instructed 
him in all the arts of war, in the chase, and in every manly 
exercise. He early distinguished himself as a horseman, and 
excited the envy of many of the Arabs of the tribe into which he 
had been admitted by his dexterity in the exercise of the " birgas " 
(a game exactly or nearly similar to what is now called that of 
the " gereed "), in which the persons engaged, mounted on horses, 
combated or pursued each other, throwing a palm stick. He 
twice defeated plundering parties of the tribe of Teydemeh, and 
on the occasion killed 'Atwan, the son of Daghir, their chief. 
These Teydemeh Arabs applied for succour to Es-Saleedee, king 
of the city of Teydemeh, He recommended them to Gessar, the 


sou of Gasir, a chief of the Benee-Hemyer, who sent to demand, 
of the trilje of Ez-Zahlan, fifteen years' arrears of tribute Avhich 
the latter had been accustomed to pay to his tribe ; and desired 
tliem to despatch to him, Avitli this tribute, the slave Barakat (for 
he believed him to be a slave), a prisoner in bonds, to be put to 
death. Barakat wrote a reply, in the name of the Emeer Fadl, 
promising compliance. Having a slave who much resembled 
him, and who was nearly of the same age, he bound him on the 
back of a camel, and, with him and the Emeer Fadl and his 
tribe, went to meet Gessar and his party and the Teydemeh 
Arabs. Fadl presented the slave as Barakat to Gessar, who, 
pleased at having his orders apparently obeyed, feasted the tribe 
of Ez-Zahlan ; but Barakat remaijied on horseback, and refused 
to eat of the food of his enemies, as, if he did, the laws of 
hospitality would prevent his executing a plot which he had 
framed. Gessar observed him, and asking the Emeer Fadl who 
he was, received the answer that he was a mad slave named 
Mes'ood. Having drawn Gessar from his party, Barakat dis- 
cover(Kl himself to him, challenged, fought, and killed him, and 
took his tent. He pardoned the rest of the hostile party, but 
imposed upon them the tribute which the Zalilan Arabs had for- 
merly paid them. Henceforth he had the name of Mes'ood added 
to that which he had before borne. Again and again he defeated 
the hostile attempts of the Benee-Hemyer to recover their inde- 
pendence, and acquired the highest renown, not only in the eyes 
of the Emeer Fadl and the whole tribe of Ez-Zahlan, of whom he 
was tnade the chief, but also among all the neighbouring tribes. 

We must now return to the Emeer Bizk and his tribe. Soon 
after the departure of his wife Khadra, he retired from his tribe, 
in disgust at the treatment which he received on account of his 
supposed disgrace, and in grief for his loss. With a single slave 
he took up his abode in a tent of black goats' hair, one of those 
in which the tenders of his camels used to live, by the spring 
where his wife had seen the combat of tlie birds. Not long after 
this event, the Benee-Hilal were afflicted by a dreadful drought, 
which lasted so long that they were reduced to the utmost distress. 
Under these circumstances, the greater number of them were 
induced, with their king Sarhan, to go to the country of the tribe 


of Ez-Zablan fox- sustenance ; but the Ga'tifireli and some minor 
tribes of the Benee-Hilal joined and remained with the Emeer 
Rizk, who had formerly been their commander. Sarhcdn and his 
party wei'e attacked and defeated by Barakat on their arrival in 
the territory of the Zahlan Arabs, but on their abject submission 
were suffered by him to remain there. They, hoAvever, cherished 
an inveterate hatred to the tribe of Ez-Zahlan, who had before 
paid them tribute ; and Sarhan was persuaded to send a messenger 
to the Eineer Rizk, begging him to come and endeavour to de- 
liver them from their humiliating state. Rizk obeyed the sum- 
mons. On his way to the territory of the Zahlan Arabs, he was 
almost convinced, by the messenger who had come to conduct 
him, that Barakat was his son, but was at a loss to know why he 
was called by this name, as he himself had named him Aboo- 
Zeyd. Arriving at the place of his destination, he challenged 
Barakat. The father went forth to combat the son — the former 
not certain that his opponent was his son, and the latter having 
no idea that he was about to lift his hand against his father, but 
thinking that his adversary was his father's murderer. The 
Emeer Rizk found occasion to put off the engagement fx-om day 
to day ; at last, being no longer able to do this, he suffered it to 
coxnmence. His son prevailed ; he unhorsed him, and would 
have put him to death had he not been chax-ged to refi-ain from 
doing this by his mother. The secx-et of Barakat's pareixtage 
Avas xiow divulged to him by the Exneereh Khadra ; and the 
•chiefs of the Benee-Hilal wex-e coxnpelled to ackxiowledge hinx as 
the legitixnate and wox'thy soix of the Eixxeer Rizk, and to ixnplore 
his pardon for the iixjui'ies which he axid his mother had sustaixxed 
from thexxx. This booxx the Emeer Aboo-Zeyd Barakat generously 
granted ; axxd he tlxus added to the joy which the Enxeer Rizk 
derived from the rccovexy of his favoux'ite wife axxd his soxx. 

The subsequent advexxtures x-elated ixx the romaxxce of Aboo- 
Zeyd ax-e xxumerous axxd coxxx plicated. The xnost popular portion 
of the work is the account of a " riyadeh," or expedition in search 
of pasture, ixi which Aboo-Zeyd, with three of his xxephews, ixi the 
disguise of Sha'ei's, himself acting as their servant, are described 
as journeyixxg through northex'n Africa, and signalizing themselves 
by nxany sux'px-ising exploits with the Arab tribe of Ez-Zinateeyeh. 



Next in point of number to the Sho'ara, among the public reciters 
of romances, are those who are particularly and solely distinguished 
by the appellation of " Mohadditeen," or story-tellers (in the singu- 
lar, " ]Mohaddit "). There are said to be about thirty of them 
in Cairo. The exclusive subject of their narrations is a work 
called "The Life of Ez-Zahir" ("Secret Ez-Zahir," or " Es-Seereh 
ez-Zahireeyeh "). They recite without book. 

The Secret Ez-Zahir is a romance founded on the history of the 
famous Sultan Ez-Zahir Beybars and many of his contemporaries. 
Tliis prince acceded to the throne of Egypt in the last month of 
the year of the Flight GoS, and died in the first month of the year 
G76 ; and consequently reigned a little more than seventeen years, 
according to the lunar reckoning, commencing a.d. 1260 and end- 
ing in 1277. Complete copies of the Secret Ez-Zahir have become 
so scarce that I have only heard of one existing in Egypt, which 
I have purchased. It consists of six quarto volumes, but is nomi- 
nally divided into ten, and is made up of volumes of several 
different copies. The author and his age are unknown. The 
work is written in the most vulgar style of modern Egyptian 
Arabic ; but as it was intended for the vulgar, it is likely that 
copyists may have altered and modernized the language. The 
oldest volumes of my copy of it were written a few years more or 
less than a century ago. To introduce my reader to some slight 
acquaintance with this work, I shall insert a translation of a few 
pages at the commencement of the second volume ; but by way 
of introduction, I must say something of the contents of the first 

A person named 'Alee Ibn-El-Warrakah, being commissioned 
to procure memlooks from foreign countries by El-Melik Es- 
Saleh (a famous Sultan of Egypt, and a celebrated welee), is re- 
lated to have purchased seventy-five memlooks in Syria ; and to 
have added to them, immediately after, the principal hero of this 
romance, a youth named Mahmood (afterwards called Beybars), 


a ca[)tive son of Shah Jakniak (or Gakuiak), King of Khuwarezm. 
'Alee was soon after oljliged to give Mahniood to one of his 
creditors at Damascus, in lieu of a debt ; and this person pi-e- 
sented him to his wife, to wait upon her son, a deformed idiot ; 
hut lie remained not long in this situation. The sister of his new 
master, paying a visit to his wife, her sister-in-law, found her 
about to beat the young memlook for having neglected the idiot, 
and suffered him to fall from a bench. Struck with the youth's 
countenance, as strongly z'esembling a son whom she had lost, 
and pitying his condition, she purchased him of her brother, 
adopted him, gave liim the name of Beybars, which was that of 
her deceased son, and made him master of her whole property, 
which was very great. This lady was caUed the sitt Fat'meh 
Bint-El- Akwasee (daughter of the bow-maker). Beybars showed 
himself worthy of lier generosity, exhibiting many proofs of a 
noble disposition, and signalizing himself by numerous extraor- 
dinary achievements, which attracted general admiration, but ren- 
dered him obnoxious to the j(!alousy and enmity of the Basha of 
Syria, 'Eesa En-Nasiree, who contrived many plots to ensnare 
him and to put him to death. After a time, Negm-ed-Deen, a 
Wezeer of Es-Saleh, and liusband of a sister of the sitt Fat'meh, 
came on an embassy to Damascus, and to visit liis sister-in-law. 
On liis return to Egypt, Beybars accompanied him thither ; and 
there he was promoted to offices of high dignity by Es-Saleh, and 
became a particular favourite of the chief Wezeer, Shaheen El- 
Afram. The events which immediately followed the death of Es- 
Saleh are thus related : — 

"After the death of El-Melik Es-Saleh Eiyoob, the Wezeer 
Eybek called together an assembly in his house, and bi-ought 
thither the Emeer Kala-oou and his partisans. And the Wezeer 
Eybek said to the Emeer Kala-oon, ' To-morrow we will go up to 
the deewan with our troops, and either I will be Sultan or thou 
shalt be.' The Emeer Kala-oon answered, ' So let it be ;' and 
they agreed to do this. In like manner, the Wezeer Shaheen 
El-Afram also assembled the Emeer Eydemr El-Bahluwan and 
his troops, and all the friends and adherents of the Emeer Beybars, 
and said to them, ' To-morrow arm yourselves, and go up to the 
deewan ; for it is our desire to make the Emeer Beybars Sultan, 


since El-Melik Es-Saleh Eiyool) wrote foi- liiui a patent appointing 
him to the sovereignty.' And they answered, ' On the head and 
the eye.' So they passed the night, and rose in the morning and 
went up to the deewan ; and there went thither also the Wezeei- 
Eybek Et-Turkamanee with his troops, and the Emeer Kala-oon 
El-Elfee with his troops, and the Emeer 'ALay-ed-Deen (or 
'Ala-ed-Deen) El-Beyseree with his troops, all of them armed. 
The Emeer Beybars likewise went up to the deewan with his 
troops ; and the deewan was crowded with soldiers. Then said 
the Wezeer Shaheen, ' Rise, O Beybars ; sit upon the throne, and 
become Sultan, for thou hast a patent appointing thee to the 
sovereignty.' The Emeer Beybars answered, ' I have no desire 
for the sovereignty ; here is present the Wezeer Eybek, and here 
is Kala-oon. Make one of them Sultan.' But the Wezeer Shaheen 
said, 'It cannot be; no one shall reign but thou.' Beybars re- 
plied, 'By thy head, I will not reign.' 'As he pleases,' said the 
Wezeer Eybek. — ' Is the sovereignty to be conferred by force?' — 
'As he pleases.' The Wezeer Shaheen said, 'And is the throne 
to remain unoccupied, with no one to act as Sultan % The 
Wezeer Eybek answered, ' Here are we present, and here is the 
Emeer Kala-oon ; whosoever will reign, let him reign.' The 
Emeer "Ezzed-Deen El-Hillee said, ' O Wezeer Shaheen, the son 
of El-]\relik Es-8aleh is living.' The Emeer Beybars asked, ' Es- 
Saleh has left a son?' - The Kurds answered, 'Yes; and his 
name is 'Eesa. He is at El-Karak.' ' And why,' said the Wezeer 
Shaheen, 'were ye silent respecting him?' They replied, 'We 
were silent for no other reason than this, that he di'inks wine. 
'Does he drink wine?' said the Wezeer Shaheen. The Kurds 
answered, ' Yes.' The Emeer Beybars said, ' May our Lord bring 
him to repentance!' 'Then,' said the soldiers, 'we must go to 
the city of El-Karak, and bring him thence, and make him Sultan. 
The Wezeer Shaheen said to them, 'Take the Emeer Beybars 
with you.' But Eybek and Kala-oon answered, 'We will go 
before him, and wait for him there until he come.' The Emeer 
Beybars said, 'So let it be.' 

" Upon this, the Wezeer Eybek and Kala-oon and 'Alay-ed- 
Dee'n El-Beyseree, and their troops, went down from the deewan 
and arranged their affairs, and on the following day caused their 


tents to be brought out, with their provisions, and pitched outside 
the 'A'dileeyeh. Now the Wezeer Shaheen knew that the troops 
wished to create a dissension between the king (El-Melik) 'Eesa 
and Bey bars. So the Wezeer Shaheen went down from the 
deewan, and took the Emeer Beybars with him, and went to his 
house, and said to him, ' Wliat hast thou perceived in the de- 
parting of the troops before thee?' He answered, 'Those persons 
detest me, for they are bearers of hatred ; but I extol the per- 
fection of Him who is all-knowing with respect to secret things.' 
The Wezeer said to him, ' My son, it is their desire to go before 
thee, that they may create a dissension between thee and El- 
Melik 'Eesa.' The Emeer Beybars said, ' There is no power nor 
strength but in God, the High, the Great!' The Wezeer said to 
him, *0 Beybars, it is my wish to send 'Osman Ibn-El-Hebla 
and Mohammad Ibn-Kamil, the Dromedarist, before the troops ; 
and whatever may happen, they will inform us of it.' Beybars 
answered, ' So let it be.' Accordingly, he sent them, and said 
to them, ' Go befoi'c the troops to the castle of El-Karak, and 
whatever may happen between them and El-Melik 'Eesa inform 
us of it.' They answered, 'It is our duty;' and they departed. 
Then said the Wezeer Shaheen, ' O Beybars, as to thee, do thou 
journey to Esh-Sham [Damascus], and stay in the house of thy 
(adoptive) mother, the sitt Fat'meh Bint-El-Akwasee ; and do not 
go out of the house until I shall have sent to thee 'Osman.' He 
answered, ' It is right.' So the Emeer Beybars rose and went to 
his house, and passed the night, and got up in the moi'ning, and 
set out on his journey to Esh-Sham, and took up his abode in the 
house of his mother, the sitt Fat'meh Bint-El-Akwasee." We 
shall have to speak of him again presently. 

" As to 'Osman Ibn-El-Hebla and Mohammad Ibn-Kamil, the 
Dromedarist, they journeyed until they entered the castle of El- 
Karak, and inquired for the residence of El-Melik 'Eesa, tlie son 
of El-Melik Es-Saleh Eiyoob. Some persons conducted them to 
the house ; and they entered, and the attendants there asked 
them what was their business. They informed them that they 
were from Masr, and that they wished to have an interview with 
El-Melik 'Eesa, the son of El-Melik Es-Saleh Eiyoob. The at- 
tendants went and told the kikhya, who came and spoke to them ; 


and tliey acquainted him with their errand. So he went and told 
El-Melik 'Eesa, saying, ' Two men are come to thee from Masr, 
and wish to have an interview with thee : the one is named 
'Osman ; and the other, Mohammad Ibn-Kamil, the Di'omedarist.' 
The King said, ' Go, call 'Osman.' The kikhya returned, and 
took him, and brought him to El-Melik 'Eesa. And 'Osman looked 
towards the King, and saw him sitting tippling ; and before him 
was a candelabrum, and a handsome memlook was serving him 
with wine ; and he was sitting by a fountain surrounded by trees. 
'Osman said, ' Mayst thou be in the keeping of God, O King 
'Eesa !' The King answered, ' Ho ! welcome, O 'Osman ! Come, 
sit down and drink.' 'Osman exclaimed, ' I beg forgiveness of 
God ! I am a repentant.' The King said, ' Obey me, and oppose 
me not.' Then 'Osman sat down; and the King said to him, 
'Why, the door of repentance is open.' And 'Osman drank until 
he became intoxicated. 

" Now Eybek and Kala-oon and 'Alay-ed-Decn and their 
troops journeyed until they beheld the city of El-Karak, and 
pitched their tents, and entered the city, and inquired for the 
house of El-Melik 'Eesa. The people conducted them to the 
house, and they entered ; and the attendants asked them what was 
their object. They answered that they were the troops of Masr, 
and wished to have an interview with El-Melik 'Eesa. The at- 
tendants went and told the kikhya, who came and received them, 
and conducted them to the hall of audience, Avhere they sat down, 
while he went and informed El-Melik 'Eesa, saying to him, ' Come 
and speak to the troo2)s of Masr who have come to tliee.' The 
King rose, and went to the troops, and accosted them ; and they 
rose, and kissed his hand, and sat down again. El-Melik 'Eesa then 
said to them, ' For what purpcse have ye come?' They answered, 
'We have come to make thee Sultan in Masr.' He said, 'My 
father, El-Melik Es-Saleh, is he not Sultan?' They replied, 
' The mercy of God, whose name be exalted, be on him ! Thy 
father has died a victim of injustice ; may our Lord avenge him 
on him who killed him !' He asked, 'Who killed him?' They 
answered, ' One whose name is Beybars killed him.' ' And where 
is Beybars?' said he. They replied, 'He is not yet come; we 
came before him.' ' Even so,' said he. They then sat with him, 


aspersing Beybars in his absence. And tliey passed the night 
there, and rising on tJie following morning, said to El-Melik 'Eesa, 
' It is our wish to go out and remain in the camp, for Shaheen, 
the Wezeer of thy father, is coming, with the Emeer Beybars ; and 
if they see us with thee, they will accuse us of bringing to thee 
the information respecting Beybars.' He answered, ' Good.' So 
they went forth to the camp, and remained there. 

" The Wezeer Shaheen approached with his troops, and en- 
camped, and saw the other troops in their camp ; but he would 
not ask them any questions, and so entered the city, and went 
to El-Melik 'Eesa, who said to him, ' Art thou Beybars, who 
poisoned my father?' He answered, 'I am the Wezeer Shaheen, 
the Wezeer of thy father.' The King said, ' And where is Beybars, 
who poisoned my father?' The AVezeer replied, ' Thy father de- 
parted by a natural death to await the mercy of his Lord. And 
who told thee that Beybars poisoned thy father?' The King 
answered, 'The troops told me.' 'Beybars,' said the Wezeer, * is 
in Esh-Sham ; go thither and charge him in the deewan with 
having poisoned thy fathei', and bring proof against him.' So the 
Wezeer perceived that the troops had been plotting. 

" The Wezeer Shaheen then went, with his troops, outside the 
camj) ; and Mohammad Ibn-Kamil, the Dromedarist, came to him 
and kissed his hand. The Wezeer asked him respecting 'Osman. 
He answered, ' I have no tidings of him.' Meanwhile, El-Melik 
'Eesa went to 'Osman, and said to him, ' The Wezeer is come 
with his troops, and they are outside the camp.' So 'Osman rose, 
and, reeling as he went, approached the tents ; and the Wezeer 
Shaheen saw him, and perceived that he was drunk, and called to 
him. 'Osman came. The Wezeer smelt him, seized him, and 
inflicted ujjon him the ' hadd ;' and said to him, ' Didst thou not 
vow to relinquish the drinking of wine?' 'Osman answered, 
' El-Melik 'Eesa, whom ye ai'e going to make Sultan, invited me.' 
The Wezeer said, ' I purpose writing a letter for you to take and 
give to the Emeer Beybars.' 'Osman replied, ' Good.' So the 
Wezeer wi-ote the letter ; and 'Osman took it and departed, and 
entered Esh-Sham, and went to the house of the sitt Fat'meh, and 
gave it to his master, who read it, and found it to contain as 
follows : — ' After salutations — from his excellency the Gi'and 


Wezeer, the Wezeei* Shaheen El-Afram, to his honour the Emeer 
Beybars. Know that the troops have aspersed thee, and created 
dissensions between thee and El-Melik 'Eesa, and accused thee 
of having poisoned his father, El-j\Ielik Es-Saleh Eiyoob. Now, 
on the arrival of this paper, take care of thyself, and go not out 
of the house unless I shall have sent to thee. And the conclu- 
sion of the letter is that 'Osman got drunk in the castle of El- 
Karak.' — Beybars was vexed with 'Osman, and said to him, 
' Come hither, and receive a pi'esent ;' and he stretched forth his 
hand and laid hold of him. 'Osman said, ' What ails thee % ' 
Beybars exclaimed, ' Did I not make thee vow to relinquish the 
drinking of wine?' 'Has he told thee?' asked 'Osman. ' I will 
give thee a treat,' said Beybars ; and he took him and threw him 
down, and inflicted upon him the 'hadd.' 'How is it,' said 
'Osman, ' that the King Avhom you are going to make Sultan I 
found drinking wine % ' Beybars answered, ' If one has trans- 
gressed, must thou transgress?' 'And is this,' asked 'Osman, 
' the hadd ordained by God 1 ' Beybars answered, ' Yes.' ' Then,' 
said 'Osman, ' the hadd which Aboo-Farmeh inflicted upon me is 
a loan, and a debt which must be repaid him.' Beybars then 
said, ' The troops have created a dissension between me and El- 
Melik 'Eesa, and have accused me of poisoning his father, El- 
Melik Es-Saleh.' ' I beg the forgiveness of God,' said 'Osman. 
' Those fellows detest thee ; but no harm will come to us from 
them.' Beybars said, ' O 'Osman, call together the saises, and 
arm them, and let them remain in the lane of the cotton-weavers, 
and not suffer any troops to enter.' 'Osman answered, ' On the 
head and the eye.' And he assembled the saises, and armed them, 
and made them stand in two rows ; then he took a seat and sat 
in the court of the house. The Emeer Beybars also armed all his 
troops, and placed them in the court of the house. 

"As to El-Melik 'Eesa, he mounted his horse and departed 
with the troops, and journeyed until he entered Esh-Sham, when 
he went in procession to the deewan, and sat upon the tlirone, and 
inquired of the King of Syria respecting Beybars. The King of 
Syria answered, ' He is in tlie lane of tlie cotton-weavers, in the 
house of his mother.' El-Melik 'Eesa said, 'O Shaheen, who will 
go and bring him ? ' The Wezeer answered, ' Send to him the 


Emeer 'Alay-ed-Deen El-Beyserea' So he sent liim. The Emeer 
descended, and went to the lane of the cotton-weavers. 'Osman 
saw him, and cried out to him, ' Dost thou remember, thou son of 
a vile woman, the chicken which thou atest?' He then struck 
him with a mace. The Emeer fell from his horse, and 'Osman 
gave him a bastinading. He returned and informed the King, 
and the King 'Eesa said again, 'O Shaheen, wlio will go and 
bring Beybarsl ' The Wezeer answered, ' Send to him the Wezeer 
Eybek.' The Kii\g said, 'Rise, O Wezeer Eybek, and go, call 
Beybars.' But Eybek said, 'No one can bring him excepting the 
Wezeer.' Then said El-]\Ielik 'Eesa, 'Rise, O Wezeer Shaheen, 
and bring Beybars.' The Wezeer answered, 'On the head and 
the eye ; but before I bring him, tell me, wilt thou deal with him 
according to law, or by arbitrary power?' The King said, 'By 
law.' Then said the Wezeer Shaheen, ' So let it be : and I spake 
not thus from any other motive than because I fear for thyself 
and the troops, lest blood be shed ; for Beybars is very stubborn, 
and has many troops ; and I fear for the army, for he is himself 
equal to the whole host. Therefore, bring accusation against him, 
aiid prove by law that he poisoned thy father.' The King said, 
'So let it be.' 

"Then the Wezeer Shaheen descended from the deewan, and 
Avent to the lane of the cotton-weavers. 'Osman saw him, and 
said, * Thou hast fallen into the snare, O Aboo-Farmeh ! The 
time of payment is come, and the debt must be returned to the 
creditor. Dost thou know how to give me a bastinading ? ' The 
Wezeer said, ' My dream which I saw has proved true.' ' What 
was thy dream?' asked 'Osman. 'I dreamed,' said the Wezeer, 
'last night that I was travelling, and some Arabs attacked me 
and surrounded me, and I was straitened by them ; and I saw 
thy master, the Emeer Beybars, upon a mount, and I called out 
to him. Come to me, O Emeer Beybars! and he knew me.' The 
Wezeer Shaheen calling out thus, the Emeer Beybars heard him, 
and came down running with his sword in hand, and found 'Osman 
and the saises surrounding the Wezeer. He exclaimed, ' 'Osman ! ' 
And 'Osman said, ' He gave me a bastinading in the city of El- 
Karak, and I want to return it' The Emeer Beybars sharply 
reprimanded him. 'And so,' said 'Osman to the Wezeer, 'thou 


hast found a way of escape/ The "VVezeer Shaheen then said, 'O 
Emeer Beybars, El-Melik 'Eesa hath sent me to thee ; he intends 
to prefer an accusation against thee in the deewan of Esh-Shani, 
charging thee with having poisoned his father. Now do thou 
arm all thy soldiers and come to the deewan, and fear not, but 
say that which shall clear thee.' Beybars answered, ' So let it be.' 
He then armed all his soldiers, and went up to the deewan, and 
kissed the hand of El-Melik 'Eesa, who said to him, ' Art thou 
the Emeer Beybars, who poisoned my father 1 ' Beybars answered, 
'Prove against me that I poisoned thy father, and bring the 
charge before the judge, and adduce evidence; the Kadee is here.' 
The King said, ' I have evidence against thee.' Beybars said, 
'Let us see.' ' Here,' said the King, 'ai'e the "VVezeer Eybek and 
Kala-oon and 'Alay-ed-Deen.' The Emeer Beybars asked them, 
' Do ye bear witness against me that I poisoned El-Melik 
Es-Saleh ? ' They answered, ' Never. We neither saw it, nor do 
we know anything of the matter.' The Kadee said, 'Hast thou 
any witnesses beside those % ' The King replied, ' None. No one 
informed me but they.' The Kadee said, 'O King, those men are 
hypocrites, and detest the Emeer Beybars.' EI-jNIelik 'Eesa there- 
upon became reconciled with the Emeer Beybars, and said to his 
attendants, 'Bring a kaftan.' They brought one. He said to 
them, ' Invest with it the Emeer Beybars ; ' and added, ' I appoint 
thee, O Beybars, commander-in-chief of the army.' But Beybars 
said, ' I have no desire for the dignity, and will put on no kaftans.' 
The King asked, ' Why, sir % ' Beybars answered, ' Because I 
have been told that thou drinkest wine.' The King said, ' I repent.' 
' So let it be,' said Beybars. And the King vowed repentance to 
Beybars. And the Emeer Beybars said, 'I make a condition 
with thee, O King, that if thou drink wine I inflict upon thee the 
hadd.' And the King replied, 'It is right.' Upon this the 
King invested the Emeer Beybars with a kaftan ; and a feast was 
made, and guns were fii-ed, and festivities were celebrated ; and 
they remained in Esh-Sham three days. 

" El-Melik 'Eesa then gave orders for departure, and performed 
the first day's journey. On the second day they came to a valley, 
celebrated as a halting-place of the Projahet, the Director in the 
way to heaven. In it were trees, and brooks, and birds which 


sang the praises of the King, the IMiglity, the Pardoner. El-lNIelik 
'Eesa said, ' Pitch the tents here ; we will here pass the night/ 
So they pitched the tents. And the day departed with its bright- 
ness, and the night came with its darkness ; but the Everlasting 
remaineth unchanged. The stars shone, and God, the Living, the 
Self-subsisting, looked upon the creation. It was the period of 
the full moon, and the King felt a longing to drink wine by the 
side of the brook and greensward ; so he called to Abu-1-Kheyr, 
who came to him and kissed his hand. The King said to him, 
' Abu-1-Kheyr, I have a longing to drink wine.' The servant 
answered, ' Hast thou not vowed repentance to the Emeer Bey- 
bars?' The King said, 'The door of repentance is open, so do 
thou obey me.' And he gave him ten pieces of gold. The servant 
then went to a convent, and brought him thence a large bottle ; 
and the King said to him, ' If thou see the Emeer Beybars coming, 
call out hay ! and as long as thou dost not see him, call clover .f 
The servant answered, 'Eight;' and he filled a cup and handed it 
to the King. Now 'Osman was by the tents ; and he came before 
the pavilion of El-]Melik 'Eesa, and saw him sitting drinking wine. 
So he went and told his master, the Emeer Beybars. Beybars 
came. Abu-1-Kheyr saw him coming from a tent, and called out 
to the King, ' Hay ! hay I ' The King immediately threw the cup 
into the brook ; Abu-1-Kheyr removed the bottle ; and the King 
set himself to praying. And when he had pronounced the saluta- 
tion [which terminates the prayers], he turned his eyes and saw 
the Emeer Beybars, and said to him, 'Wherefore art thou come 
at this hour? Go, sleep; it is late.' Beybars answered, 'I have 
come to ask thee whether we shall continue our journey now or 
to-morrow morning.' The King said, 'To-morrow morning.' And 
the Emeer Beybars returned, A-exed with 'Osman, and said to him, 
' O 'Osman, didst thou not tell me that the King was sitting drink- 
ing wine ? Now I have been, and found him praying. Dost thoit 
utter a falsehood against the Sultan ? ' 'Osman answered, ' Like 
as he has smoothed it over, do thou also ; no matte i\' Beybars 
was silent. 

" They passed the night there, and on the following morning 
El-Melik 'Eesa gave orders for departure. They journeyed towards 
Masr ; and when they had arrived at the 'A'dileeyeh, and pitched 


their tents, the Emeer Beybars said, ' O our lord the Sultan, we 
have now arrived at Masr.' The King answered, ' I desire, O 
Beybars, to visit the tomb of the Imam [Esh-Shaf e'ee]. ' Beybars 
said, ' The thing is right, O our lord the Sultan : to-morrow I will 
conduct thee to visit the Imam.' They remained that night at 
the 'A'dileeyeh ; and on the following morning the Sultan rode in 
procession to visit the Imam, and returned in procession, and 
visited the tomb of his father, El-Melik Es-Saleh Eiyoob, and 
then went in state to the Citadel. And the 'Ulama went up 
thither, and inaugurated him as sovereign, and conducted him into 
the armoury ; and he drew out from thence a sword, upon which 
was inscribed ' El-Melik El-Mo'azzam ' [the Magnified King] : 
wherefore they named him ' 'Eesa El-Mo'azzam.' They coined the 
money with his name, and prayed for him on the pulpits of the 
mosques; and he invested with kaftans the soldiers and the Emeer 
Beybars, the commander-in-chief. The Sultan then wrote a patent, 
conferring the sovereignty, after himself, upon the Emeer Beybars, 
to be King and Sultan. So the Emeer Beybars had two patents 
conferring upon him the sovereignty — the patent of El-Melik Es- 
Saleh Eiyoob, and the patent of El-Melik 'Eesa El-Mo'azzam. 
Eybek and Kala-oon and 'Alay-ed-Deen and their partisans, who 
hated Beybars, were grieved at this, but his friends rejoiced. The 
troops descended from the deewan and went to their houses, and 
in like manner the Emeer Beybars descended in procession, and 
went to his house by the Kanatir es-Sibaa. 

" Now the Queen Shegeret-ed-Durr sent to El-Melik 'Eesa El- 
Mo'azzam. He went to her palace. She kissed liis hand ; and he 
said to her, 'Who art thou?' She answered, 'The wife of thy 
father, El-Melik Es-Saleh.' 'And what is thy name?' said he. 
She replied, 'The Queen Fatimeh Shegeret-ed-Durr.' He ex- 
claimed, ' Oh, welcome ! pray for me then.' She said, ' God bring 
thee to repentance ! ' She then gave him a charge respecting the 
Emeer Beybars, saying, ' Thy father loved him above all the 
chiefs, and entered into a covenant with him before God ; and I 
also made a covenant with him before God.' He answered, 'O 
Queen, by thy life, I have written for him a patent conferring 
upon him the sovereignty after me.' She said, 'And thy father 
also wrote for him a patent conferring upon him the sovereignty,' 

^440) 27 


T]ie King then said to her, ' Those chiefs created a dissension be- 
tween me and him, and asserted that he poisoned my father.' 8he 
said, 'I beg God's forgiveness! They hate him.' After this the 
Queen remained chatting with him a short time ; and he went to 
his saloon, and passed the night, and rose. 

" On the following day he held a court, and the hall was filled 
with troops. And he winked to Abu-1-Kheyr, and said, ' Give me 
to driiak.' Now he had said to him the day before, 'To-morrow, 
when I hold my court, and say to thee, Give me to drink, bring 
me a water-bottle full of wine.' So when El-Melik 'Eesa sat upon 
the throne, and the court, filled with troops, resembled a garden, 
the troops resembling the branches of plants, he felt a longing to 
drink wine, and said to Abu-1-Kheyr, * Give me to drink,' and 
winked to him ; and he brought to liim the water-bottle, and he 
drank, and returned it. Then he sat a little longer, and said 
again, ' Give me to drink, O Abu-1-Khcyr ; ' and the servant 
brought the bottle, and he drank, and gave it back. Ho sat a 
little longer, and again he said, 'Give me to drink.' Kala-oon 
said, ' O 'Alay-ed-Deen, it seems that the Sultan has breakfasted 
upon kaware.'* Upon this the Wezeer Shaheeu asked him, ' ^^'hat 
hast thou eaten 1' The King answered, 'My stomach is lieated 
and Ihitulent.' The Wezeer, however, perceived the smell of wine, 
and was vexed. The court then broke up, and the troops de- 
scended. The Wezeer Shaheen also descended, and took with 
him the Emeer Beybars to his house, and said to him, ' May God 
take retribution from thee, O Beybars.' Beybars said, 'Why?' 
The Wezeer answered, ' Because thou didst not accept the sover- 
eignty.' ' But for what reason sayest thou this % ' asked Beybars. 
The Wezeer said, * The Sultan to-day drank wine, while sitting 
upon the throne, three times. When the Vicar of God, in ad- 
ministering the law, intoxicates himself, his decisions are null, and 
he has not any right to give them.' Beybars replied, ' I made a 
condition with him, that if he drank wine I should inflict upon 
him the hadd, and wrote a document to that effect in Esh-Sliam.' 
' To-morrow,' said the Wezeer, ' when he holds his court, observe 
him, and take the water-bottle and see what is in it. I perceived 
his smell,' Beybars answered, 'It is riglit' And he arose, and 

* A dish of lamb's feet, cooked with garlic and vinegar, etc 


went to his house sorrowful. And he passed the night, and rose, 
and went to the court, and found it tilled with troops ; and he 
kissed the hand of the Sultan, and sat in his place. Presently the 
Sultan said, ' Give me to drink, O Abu-1-Kheyr.' And the ser\'ant 
brought the water-bottle, and the Sultan drank. Beybars took 
hold of the water-bottle, and said, 'Give me to driTik.' The 
servant answered, 'This is medicinal water.' 'No harm,' said 
Beybars; 'I have a desire for it.' 'It is rose-water,' said the 
servant. Beybars said, ^Good.' And he took the bottle, and 
said, ' Bring a basin.' A basin was brought, and he poured into 
it the contents of the bottle before the troops ; and they saw that 
it was wine. Then said the Etneer Beybars to the Sultan, ' Is it 
allowed thee by God to be his Vicar, and to intoxicate thyself? 
Did I not make thee vow to relinquish the drinking of wine, and 
say to thee. If thou drink it I will inflict upon thee the hadd ; 
and did I not wi-ite a document to that effect in Esh-Sham % ' The 
Sultan answered, 'It is a habit decreed against me, O Beybars.' 
Beybars exclaimed, ' God is witness, O ye troops ! ' And he took 
the Sultan and beat him, and he was unconscious by reason of the 
wine that he had drunk ; and he loosed him, and d(>partcd from 
him, and went to his house." 

The second volume proceeds to relate the troubles which befell 
Beybars in consequence of his incurring the displeasure of El- 
Melik 'Eesa by the conduct just described, his restoration to the 
favour of that prince, and his adventures during the reigns of the 
subsequent Sultans, Khaleel El-Ashraf, Es-Saleh the youth, Eybek 
(his great and inveterate enemy), and El-Mudaffar, and then his 
own accession to the sovereignty. The succeeding volumes con- 
tain narratives of his wars in Syria and other countries, detailing 
various romantic achievements, and the exploits of the " Feda- 
Aveeyeh," or " Fedawees," of his time. The term Fedawee, which 
is now vulgarly understood to signify any warrior of extraordinary 
courage and ability, literally and properly means a ])erson who 
gives, or is ready to give, his life as a ransom for his companions 
or for their cause ; and is here applied to a class of warriors who 
owned no allegiance to any sovereign unless to a chief of their 
own choice — the same class who are called, in our histories of the 
Crusades, "Assassins," whir-h appellation tlie vorv loarned Orien- 


talist De Sacy has, I think, rightly })ronouiiced to be a corruption 
of " Hashshasheen," a name derived from their making frequent 
use of the intoxicating hemp called "hasheesh." The romance of 
Ez-Zahir affords confirmation of the etymology given by De Sacy, 
but suggests a different explanation of it — the Fedaweeyeh being 
almost always described in this work as making use of " beng " (a 
term applied to hemp, and also to henbane, which in the present 
day is often mixed with hasheesh) to make a formidable enemy or 
rival their prisoner, by disguising themselves, inviting him to eat, 
putting the drug into his food or drink, and thus causing him 
speedily to fall into a deep sleep, so that they were able to bind 
him at their leisure, and convey hiin wliither they would. The 
chief of these warriors is " Sheehah," called " Sultan el-Kilaa wa-1- 
Hosoon" (or "Sultan of the Castles and Fortresses"), who is de- 
scribed as almost constantly engaged, and generally with success, 
in endeavouring to reduce all the Fedawees to allegiance to himself 
and to Beybars. From his adroitness in disguises and plots, his 
Proteus-like character, his name has become a common appellation 
of persons of a similar description. Another of the more remark- 
able characters in this romance is " Guwan " (or John), a European 
Christian, who, having deeply studied Muslim law, succeeds in 
obtaining, and retains for a few years, the office of Kadee of the 
Egyptian metropolis, and is perpetually plotting against Beybars, 
Sheehah, and other Muslim chiefs. 

Much of the entertainment derived from recitations of tliis 
work depends upon the talents of the Mohaddit, who often greatly 
improves the stories by his action, and by witty introductions of 
his own invention. 



There is in Cairo a third class of reciters of romances, who are 
called " 'Anatireh " or " 'Antereeyeh" (in the singular " 'Anter'ee "), 
but they are much less numerous than either of the other two 
classes before mentioned — their number at present, if I am rightly 
informed, not amounting to more than six. They bear the above 


appellation from the chief subject of their recitations, Avhich is 
the romance of "'Antar" ("Secret 'Antar"). As a consider- 
able portion of this interesting work has become known to 
English readers by Mr. Terrick Hamilton's translation, I need 
give no account of it. The reciters of it read it from the book. 
They chant the poetry, but the prose they read in the popu- 
lar manner ; and they have not the accompaniment of the rabab. 
As the poetry in this work is very imperfectly understood by 
the vulgar, those who listen to it are mostly persons of some 

The 'Anatireh also recite from other works than that from 
which they derive their appellation. All of them, I am told, 
occasionally relate stories from a romance called " Seeret el- 
Mugahideen" ("The History of the Warriors"), or, more com- 
monly, "Seeret Delhem'eh," or " Zu-1-Himmeh," from a heroine 
who is the chief character in the work. A few years since they 
frequently recited from the romance of " Seyf Zu-1-Yezen " (vul- 
garly called " Seyf El-Yezen " and " Seyf El-Yezel "), a work 
abounding with tales of wonder; and from "The Thousand and 
One Nights " (" Elf Leyleh wa-Leyleh "), more conunonly known 
in our country by the title of " The Arabian Nights' Entertain- 
ments." The great scarcity of copies of these two works is, I 
believe, the reason why recitations of them are no longer heard 
Even fragments of them are with difficulty procured ; and when a 
complete copy of " The Thousand and One Nights " is found, the 
price demanded for it is too great for a reciter to have it in his 
power to pay. I doubt whether the romances of Al)00-Zeyd, Ez- 
Zahir, Antar, and Delhem'eh are chosen as the sulijects of recita- 
tion because preferred to "The Thousand and One Nights," but 
it is certain that the modern Muslims of Egypt have sufficient 
remains of Bedawee feeling to take great delight in hearing tales 
of war. 

That my reader may have some notion of all the works from 
which the professional reciters of romances in Cairo draw mate- 
rials for the amusement of their audiences in the present day, I 
shall give a sketch of some of the adventures related in the 
romance of Delhem'eh. This work is even more scarce than any 
of those before mentioned. The copies, I am told, were always 


ill fifty-five volumes. After long search, all that I have succeeded 
in procuring of it is a portion consisting of the first three volumes 
(containing, together, 302 pages), and another portion, consisting 
of the forty-sixth and forty-seventh volumes. The former would 
present a good specimen of the work were not the greater part 
written in a hand scarcely legible ; in consequence of which, and 
of the many other subjects that now demand my attention, I have 
only been able to read the first volume. The chief subjects of 
this work, according to the preface, are the wai-like exploits of 
Arabs of the desert in the times of the Khaleefehs of the houses 
of TJmeiyeh and E1-' Abbas. It is composed from the narratives 
of various writers. Nine names of the authors are mentioned, 
but none of them are at present known. Their history and their 
age are alike uncertain, but the style of their narratives shows 
them to be not modern. The account which the 'Anatireh and 
Mohadditeen generally give of this romance is as follows : — When 
El-Asma"ee (or, as he is vulgarly called, El-Asmo"ee) composed, 
or compiled, the liistory of 'Antar, that work (they say) became 
extremely popular, and created so great an enthusiasm on the 
subjects of the adventures of Arab warriors, that a diligent search 
was made for all tales of the same kind ; and from these was 
compiled the Secret el-^Iugahideen, or Delhem'eh, by some author 
now unknown, who, as he could not equal the author of 'Antar in 
eloquence, determined to surpass him in the length of his narra- 
tives ; and 'Antar being generally in forty-five volumes, he made 
his book fifty-five. The romance of Delhem'eh abounds in poetry 
which is not without beauties nor without faults ; but these are, 
perhaj^s, mostly attributable to copyists. — Of a jjart of what I 
have read, which introduces us to one of the principal characters 
in the work, I shall now give an abridged translation. 

At the commencement of the work we are told that in the 
times of the Khaleefehs of the house of Umeiyeh none of the Arab 
tribes surpassed in power, courage, hospitality, and other virtues 
for which the Arabs of the desert are so famous, the Benee-Kilab, 
whose territory was in the Hegaz. But the viceroy of the Khalee- 
feh over the collective tribes of the desert was the chief of the 
Beuee-Suleym, who prided themselves on this distinction and on 
their wealth. El-Haris, the chief of the Benee-Kilab, a horseman 


unrivalled in his day, in one of the predatoiy excursions Avhich he 
was wont frequently to make against other tribes, took captive a 
beautiful girl, named Er-Ptabab (or the Viol), whom he married. 
She became pregnant, and during her pregnancy dreamed that 
a fire issued from her and burnt all her clothing. Being much 
troubled by this dream, she related it to her husband, and he, 
alike surprised and distressed, immediately searched for, and soon 
found, a person to interpret it. An old sheykh informed him that 
his wife would bear a son of great renown, who would have a son 
more renowned than himself, and that the mother of the former 
would be in danger of losing her life at the time of his birth. 
This prophecy he repeated to the wife of El-Haris, and at her 
request he wrote an amulet to be tied upon the infant's right arm 
as soon as he should be born ; upon which amulet he recorded the 
family and pedigree of the child : — " This child is the son of El- 
Haris the son of Khalid the son of 'A'mir the son of Saasa"ah the 
son of Kilab ; and this is his pedigree among all the Arabs of the 
Hegaz ; and he is verily of the Benee-Kilab." Soon after this El- 
Haris fell sick, and after a short illness died. Most of the Arabs 
of neighbouring tribes, Avho had been subjected and kept in awe 
by him, rejoiced at his death, and determined to obtain retribution 
by plundering his property. This coming to the ears of his wido^\■, 
Er-Rabab, she determined to return to her family, and persuaded 
a black slave who had belonged to her late husband to accompany 
her. By night, and without having mentioned their intention to 
any one else, they departed ; and at midnight they approached a 
settlement of Arabs whose chief was the Emeer Darim. Here 
the slave, tempted by the Devil, led her from the road, and im- 
pudently told her that her beauty had excited in his breast a 
passion which she must consent to gratify. She indignantly re- 
fused ; but the fright that she received from his base conduct 
occasioned a premature labour, and in this miserable state she gave 
birth to a son. She washed the infant with the water of a brook 
that ran by the spot, wrapped it in a piece of linen which she tore 
off fi'ora her dress, tied the amulet to its arm, and placed it to her 
breast. Scarcely had she done this when the slave, infuriated by 
disappointment, drew his sword and struck oft' her head. Having 
thus revenged himself, he fled. 


Now it happened, as Providence had decreed, that the wife of 
the Emeer Darim had just been delivered of a son, which had 
died ; and the Emeer, to dissipate his grief on this account, went 
out to hunt with several of his people on the morning after Er- 
Rabab had been murdered. He came to the spot where her 
corpse lay, and saw it. The infant was still sucking the breast of 
its dead mother, and God had sent a flight of locusts, of the kind 
called "gundub," to shade it from the sun with their wings. Full 
of astonishment at the sight, he said to his Wezeer, "See this 
murdered damsel, and this infant on her lap, and those flying 
insects shading it, and the dead mother still aftbrding it milk ! 
Now, by the faith of the Arabs, if thou do not ascertain the his- 
tory of this damsel and the cause of her murder, I behead thee 
like her." The Wezeer answered, "O King, none knoweth what 
is secret but God, whose name be exalted ! Was I with her ? or 
do I know her? But promise me protection, and I will inform 
thee what I suppose to have been the case." The King said, " I 
give thee protection." Then said the Wezeer, " Know, O King, 
— but God is most knowing — that this is the daughter of some 
King ; and she has grown up, and a servant has had intercourse 
with her, and by him she has conceived this child ; and her 
family have become acquainted with the fact, and killed her. 
This is my opinion, and there is an end of it." The King ex- 
claimed, " Thou dog of the Arabs ! what is this that thou sayest 
to the prejudice of this damsel? By Allah ! if I had not prom- 
ised thee protection, I had slain thee with the edge of the sword ! 
If she had committed this crime, she would not be affording the 
child her milk after she was dead, nor would God have sent these 
flying insects to shade the infant." He then sent for a woman to 
wash the corpse; and after it had been washed and bound in 
grave-clothes, he buried it respectably. 

From the circumstance of the gundub shading him with 
their wings, the foundling received the name of " El-Gundub'ah." 
The Emeer Darim conveyed it to his wife, and persuaded her 
to bring it uj^ as her own ; which she did until the child had 
attained the age of seven years, when he was sent to school, 
and there he remained until he had learned the Kur-an. By 
the time he had attained to manhood, he had become a horse- 


man unrivalled • he was like a bitter colocynth, a viper, and a 

Now his adoptive father, the Emeer Darim, went forth one 
day, according to his custom, on a predatory expedition, accom- 
panied by a hundred horsemen. Falling in with no booty, he pro- 
ceeded as far as the territory of a woman called Esh-Shamta (or the 
(irizzle), whom the heroes of her time held in fear, on account of 
her prowess and strength, and who was possessed of great wealth. 
He determined to attack her. She mounted her horse in haste, 
on hearing of his approach, and went forth to meet him and his 
party. For a whole hour she contended with them, killed the 
greater number, and put the rest to flight, except the Emeer 
Darim, whom she took prisoner, and led in bonds, disgraced and 
despised, to her fortress. Those of his attendants who had fled 
returned to their tribes, and plunged them in affliction by the 
story they related. The Emeer Darim had ten sons. These all 
set out together, with a number of attendants, to rescue their 
father ; but they all became the prisoners of Esh-Shamta, and 
most of their attendants were killed by her. El-Gundub'ah now 
resolved to try his arms against this heroine. He went alone, 
unknown to any of the tribe, except his foster-mother, and arrived 
at the place of his destination. Esh-Shamta was on the top of her 
fortress. She saw him approach — a solitary horseman — and per- 
ceived that his riding was that of a hero. In haste she descended, 
and mounted her horse, and went out to meet him. She shouted 
against him, and the desert resounded with her shout ; but El- 
Gundub'ah was unmoved by it. They defied (*ach other, and 
met; and for a whole liour the contest lasted. At length El- 
(xundub'ah's lance pierced the bosom of Esh-Sliamta- — its glittering 
point protruded through lier back ; and she fell from her horse, 
slain, and weltering in her blood. Her slaves, wlio were forty in 
number, seeing their mistress dead, made a united attack upon 
lier victor ; but he unhorsed them all. And then, reproaching 
them for having served a woman when they were all men of 
prowess, admonished them to submit to him ; upon which they all 
acknowledged him as their master. He divided among them the 
treasures of Esh-Shamta ; and released his adoptive father and 
brothers, with whom he returned to the tribe. 


This exploit spread the fame of El-Clundul)'ah among all the 
tribes of the desert ; but it excited envy in the breast of the Emeer 
Darim, who soon after desired him to seek for himself some other 
place of abode. El-Gundub'ah remonstrated, but to no effect, 
and prepared for his departure. When he was about to go, the 
Emeer Darim desired to be allowed to open the amulet that was 
upon El-Gundub'ah's arm, and to read what was written upon the 
paper. Having obtained permission, and done this, he uttered a 
loud shout; and .several of his people coming in to inquire the 
cause of this cry, he said to them : " This youth is the son of your 
enemy El-Haris, the Kilabee ; take him, and slay him." But El- 
Gundub'ah insisted that they should contend with him one by one. 
The Emeer Darim was the first to challenge him, and addressed 
him in these verses : — • 

" This day I forewarn thee of death and disgrace, 

From my weapon, thou offspring of parents base ! 

iJidst thou think, thou vile foundling, to raise thyself, 
O'er the heads of our tribe, to the foremost place ? 

Thy hope is now baffled, thy wish is deceived, 
For to-day we have known thee of hostile race. 

Thy bloodthirsty father oppressed our tribe— 
Both our men and our wealth were his frequent preys ; 

But to-day shall be taken a full revenge- 
All our heroes shall see me their wrongs efface. 

Be assured that thy death is now near at hand, 
That my terrible lance shall pierce thee apace ; 

For 'twas I introduced thee among our tribe, 
And the foe that I brought I will now displace." 

El-Gundub'ah replied: "O my uncle, thou hast treated me 
with kindness ; do not repent of it, but let me depart from you 
in peace. Cancel not the good that thou hast done." But Darim 
answered : " Use no protraction, for thy death is determined on." 
Then Ei-Gundub'ah thus addressed him, — 

" Be admonished, O Darim ! thy steps retrace. 

And haste not thus rashly thy fate to embrace. 
Hast thou ever seen aught of evil in me? 

I have always named thee with honour and praise. 
By my hand and lance was Esh-Shamta destroyed, 

When thou wast her captive, in bonds and disgrace : 
I freed thee from bondage ; and is it for this 

We are now met as enemies, face to face ? 
God be judge between us ; for he will be just. 

And will show who is noble and who is base,"" 


As soon as he had said these words, the Emeer Darini charged 
upon liim. They fought for a whole hour ; and at hist El-Gun- 
dub'ah pierced the breast of Darim with his spear, and the point 
pi'otruded, glittering, from the spine of his back. When Darim's 
sons saw that their father was slain, they all attacked El-Gun- 
dub'ah, who received them as the thirsty land receives a drizzling 
rain. Two of them he killed ; the rest fled, and acquainted their 
mother with the events they had just witnessed. With her head 
uncovered and her bosom bare, she came weeping to El-Gundub'ah, 
and thus exclaimed, — • 

" O Gundub'ah, thy lance hath wrought havoc sore : 

Man and youth have perished, and lie in their gore ; 
And among them the eldest of all my sons. 

They are justly punished ; but now I implore 
That thou pardon the rest : in pity for me 

Restrain thy resentment, and slaughter no more. 
By my care of thy childhood, and by these breasts, 

Which have nourished thee, noble youth, heretofore, 
Have mercy upon us, and leave us in peace ; 

In spite of thy wrongs, this contention give o'er. 
I love thee as though thou wert truly my son, 

And thy loss I shall sorrow for evermore. " 

El-Gundub'ah listened to her address ; and when she had 
finished, he thus replied, — 

" O mother ! by Him whom we all adore. 

And the just Mustafa Ta-Ha,* I deplore 
The actions which I have been made to commit — 

Deeds against my will, and not thought of before. 
But God, to whose aid I ascribe my success, 

Had of old decreed these events to occur. 
For thy sake their pardon I grant, and I would 

If their lances had made my life-blood to pour. 
To withdraw myself hence, and sever the ties 

Of affection and love, is a trial sore. 
While I live I shall constantly wish thee peace. 

And joy uninterrupted for evermore." 

Having said thus, El-Gundub'ah took leave of his foster-mother, 
and departed alone, and went to the fortress of Esh-Shamta. The 
slaves saw him approach, and met him ; and in reply to their 
inquiries, he informed them of all that had just befallen him. He 
then asked if any of them were willing to go with him in search 

* A name of the Arabian Prophet. 


of a better territory, where they might intercept the caravans and 
subsist by plunder ; and, they all declaring their readiness to 
accompany him, he chose from among them as many as he de- 
sired, and left the rest in the fortress. He travelled with his slaves 
until they came to a desolate and dreary tract, without verdure or 
water ; and the slaves, fearing that they should die of thirst, con- 
spired against his life. But El-Gundub'ah, perceiving their discon- 
tent and guessing their intention, pressed on to a tract abounding 
with water and pasture, and here they halted to rest. El-Gun- 
dub'ah watched until all of them had fallen asleep ; and then 
despatched them^ every one, with his sword. Having done this, 
he pursued his journey during the night ; and in the morning he 
arrived at a valley with verdant sides and abundance of pasture, 
with lofty trees, and rapid streams, and birds whose notes pro- 
claimed the praises of the Lord of Power and Eternity. In the 
midst of this valley he saw a Bedawee tent, and a lance stuck by 
it in the ground, and a horse picketed. The Emeer Gundub'ah 
fixed his eyes upon this tent, and as he looked at it there came 
forth from it a person of elegant appearance, completely armed, 
who bounded upon the horse, and galloped towards him, without 
uttering a word, to engage him in combat. " M)'^ brother ! " ex- 
claimed El-Gundub'ah, " begin with salutation before the stroke 
of the sword; for that is a principle in the nature of the noble." 
But no answer was returned. They fought until their spears were 
broken and till their swords were jagged. At length El-Gundub'ah 
seized hold of the vest beneath his antagonist's coat of mail, and 
heaved its wearer from the saddle to the ground. He uplifted 
his sword ; but a voice, so sweet it would have cured the sick, 
exclaimed, " Have mercy on thy captive, O hero of the age ! " 
" Art thou a man," said El-Guiidub'ah, " or a Avoman ? " "I am 
a virgin damsel," she replied; and, di'awing away her "litani," 
displayed a face like the moon at the full. When El-Gundub'ah 
beheld the beauty of her face and the elegance of her form, he 
was bewildered and overpowered with love. He exclaimed, " O 
mistress of beauties, and star of the mom, and life of souls ! 
acquaint me with thy secret, and inform me of the truth of thy 
history." She replied, "O hero of our time! O hero of the age 
and period ! shall I relate to thee my story in narrative prose or 


in measured verse I " He said, " O beauty of thine age and peerless 
one of thy time ! I will hear nothing from thee but measured 
verse." She then thus related to him all that had happened to 
her, — 

" O thou noble hero and generous knight ! 

Thou leader of warriors, and foremost in fight ! 
Hear, now, and attend to the story I tell. 

I'm the \argui daughter, thou hero of might. 
Of El-Melik Kaboos, and a maid whose fame 

Has been raised, by her arms, to an envied height ; 
Acknowledged a heroine, bold and expert, 

Skilled alike with the lance and the sword to smite. 
Many suitors sought nie in marriage, but none 

Could ever induce me his love to requite ; 
And I swore by my Lord, the Compassionate, 

And the noble Mustafa, that moonlike light. 
That to no man on earth I would e'er consent 

In the bonds of marriage myself to unite, 
Unless to a hero for prowess renowned. 

To one who should prove himself hardy in fight ; 
Who in combat should meet me, and overcome. 

And never betray the least weakness or fright. 
My suitors assembled : I fought each in turn. 

And I vanquished them all in our people's sight ; 
Not a horseman among them attained his wish. 

For I parried the thrusts of each daring knight. 
I was justly 'The Slayer of Heroes ' named, 

For no match could be found for my weajjon bright. 
But I feared my father might force me at last 

To accept as my husband some parasite ; 
And therefore I fled, and in this lonely place. 

With my troop of horsemen, I chose to alight. 
Here we watch for the passing caravans. 

And with plunder we quiet our appetite. 
Thou hast made me thy captive, and pardoned me. 

Grant me one favour more, my wish do not slight : 
Receive me in marriage ; embrace me at once, 

For I willingly now acknowledge thy right." 

" Kattalet-esh-Shug'an," or the Slayer of Heroes (for so was 
this damsel named, as above related by herself), then said to Ei- 
Gundub'ah, "Come with me and my party to my abode." He 
went with her ; and her people received them with joy, and 
feasted the Emeer Gundub'ah three days. On the fourth day 
Kattalet-esh-Shug'an assembled the people of her tribe, with El- 
Gundub'ah, at her own dwelling, and regaled them with a repast, 
to which liigh and low were admitted. After they had eaten 


they began to converse, and asked El-Gundub'ah to acquaint them 
with his history. He accordingly related to them what had 
befallen hiin with the Emeer Darim ; how he had liberated him 
and his sons from captivity, and how ungratefully he had been 
treated. There were ten persons sitting with him, and nine of 
these recounted their deeds in arms. The tenth, who was a slave, 
was then desired to tell his story ; and he related his having served 
the Emeer Haris, and murdered his widow. El-Gundub'ah heard 
with impatience this tale of his mother's murderer; and, as soon 
as it was finished, drew his sword, and struck off the slave's head, 
exclaiming, "T have taken my blood-revenge upon this traitor 
slave ! " The persons present all drew their swords, and raised a 
tremendous shout. Kattalet-esh-Shug'an was not then with them, 
but she heard the shout, and instantly came to inquire the cause ; 
which they related to her, demanding, at the same time, that El- 
Gundub'ah should be given up to them to be put to death- She 
drew them aside, and told them that he had eaten of her food, 
and that she would not give him up, even if he had robbed her of 
her honour ; but that she would advise him to take his departure 
on tlie morrow, and that, when he should have left her abode, 
they might do as they pleased. She then went to him and told 
him of his danger. He asked what he should do. She answered, 
"Let us marry forthwith, and depart from these people;" and 
this he gladly consented to do. 

They married each other immediately, taking God alone for 
their witness; and departed at night, and proceeded on their w^ay 
until the morning, giving thanks to their Lord. For four days 
they continued their journey ; and on the fifth day arrived at a 
valley abounding with trees, and fruits, and birds, and running 
streams. They entered it at midnight. Seeing something white 
among the trees, they approached it, and found it to be a horse, 
white as camphor. They waited till morning, and then beheld a 
settlement of Arabs. There were horses, and she and he camels, 
and tents pitched, and lances stuck in the ground, and pavilions 
erected ; and among them was a great company, and there were 
maids beating tamljourines : they were surrounded with abun- 
dance. Through this valley El-Gundub'ah and his bride took 
their way. His love for her iiicreased : they conversed together, 


and her conversation delighted him. She now, for the first time, 
ventured to ask him why he had killed the slave, when he was 
her guest ; and he related to her the history of this wretch's crime. 
After this, they talked of the beauties of the valley which they 
had entered ; and while they were thus amusing themselves, a 
great dust appeared, and beneath it were seen troops of horsemen 
galloping along. El-Gundub'ah immediately concluded that they 
were of his wife's tribe, and were come in pursuit of him. But he 
was mistaken ; for they divided into four parties, and all attacking, 
in different quarters at the same time, the tribe settled in the 
valley, soon made the latter raise piteous cries and lamentations, 
and rend the air with the shouts of " O 'A'mir ! Kilab ! " When 
El-Gundub'ah heard the cries of " O 'A'mir ! O Kilab ! " he ex- 
claimed to his wife, "These people are the sons of my uncle — my 
flesh and my blood ! " aiid instantly determined to hasten to their 
assistance. His bride resolved to accompany him ; and they Ijoth 
together rushed upon the enemy, slaying every horseman in their 
way, and piercing the bi'easts of those on foot, with such fury and 
such success that the defeated tribe rallied again, repulsed their 
assailants, and recovered all the booty that had been taken ; after 
which they returned to El-Gundub'ah, and asked him who ho was. 
He answered, " This is not a time to ask questions, but a time 
to rest from fight and slaughter." So they took him with them, 
and retired to rest ; and after they had rested and eaten, he 
related to them his history. Delighted with his words, they all 
exclaimed, "The truth hath appeared, and doubt is dissipated; 
justice is rendered to the deserving, and the sword is returned to 
its scabbard." They immediately acknowledged him their right- 
ful chief ; but after the death of El-Haris, they had chosen for 
their chief an Emeer named Gabir, who hated El-Haris, and 
termed him a robber ; and this Emeer now disjiuted their choice, 
and challenged El-Gundub'ah to decide the matter by combat. 
The challenge was accepted, and the two rivals met and fouglit ; 
but though Gabir was a thoi-ough warrior, El-Gundul)'ali slew 
him. This achievement obtained him the possession of Gabir's 
mare, an animal coveted throughout the desert ; the I'est of the 
pi'operty of the vanquished chief ho left to be parted among the 
tribe. There were, however, many partisans of Gabir, and these, 


when tliej saw hiin slain, gathered themselves together against 
El-Gundub'ah ; but he, with the assistance of his own party, 
defeated them, and put them to flight. Heturning from their 
pursuit, he sat among his people and kinsfolk ; and the sheykhs 
of his tribe brought him horses and arms and everything neces- 
sary. He received gifts from every quarter; his wife, also, was 
presented with ornaments; and from that day the Emeer Gun- 
dub'ah was acknowledged by all his tribe as the chief of the 



Many of the most remarkable customs of the modern Egyptians 
are witnessed at their periodical public festivals celebrated in 
Cairo, the more important of which I shall here describe. INIost 
of these festivals and other anniversaries take place at particular 
periods of the lunar, Mohammadan year. 

The first ten days of " Moharram " {the first month of the 
Mohammadan year) are considered as eminently blessed, and 
are celebrated with rejoicing; but the tenth day is especially 
honoured. They are vulgarly called the '"ashr"— the derivation 
of which term will be explained hereafter. The custom of selling, 
during this period of ten days, what is called " mey'ah mubara- 
kah," to be used, during the ensuing year, as a charm against the 
evil eye, whenever occasion may require, I have already men- 
tioned in the second of the two chapters devoted to the supersti- 
tions of the modern Egyptians. I have also mentioned that it is 
considered by the Egyptians unlucky to make a marriage-contract 
in Moharram. 

It is a coinmon custom of the Muslims of Egypt to give what 
they can afford in alms during the month of Moharram, especially 
in the fii'st ten days, and more especially on the tenth day ;29 and 
many pretend, though few of them really do so, to give at this 
season the " zekah," or alms required by their law, of which I 
have spoken in a former chapter : they give what, and to whom, 
they will. During the ten days above mentioned, and particularly 


on the tenth, many of the women of Cairo, and even those in re- 
spectable circumstances, if they have a young child, carry it thi"ougli 
the streets, generally on the shoulder, or employ another female to 
carry it, for the pui'pose of soliciting alms from any well-di'essed 
person whom they may chance to meet ; sometimes the mother 
or bearer of the child, and sometimes the child itself, asks for the 
alms, saying, "My master, the alms of the 'ashr." The word 
"'ashr" is vulgarly understood as meaning the "ten days;" but 
I think it signifies the " ten nights," though I am informed that 
it is a corruption of " 'oshr," a term improperly used for "ruba el- 
'oshr " (the quarter of the tenth, or the fortieth part), which is the 
proportion that the Muslim is requii-ed by law to give in alms of 
the money which he possesses, and of some other articles of pro- 
perty. The sum generally given to a child in the case above de- 
scribed is a piece of five faddahs ; and this, and as many others 
as can be procured in the same manner, are sometimes spent in 
sweetmeats, etc., but more usually sewed to the child's cap, and 
worn thus until the next Moharram, when, if the child be not too 
old, the same custom is repeated for its sake — the pieces of money 
thus obtained being considered as charms. 

The women of Egypt, and particularly of Cairo, entertain some 
curious superstitions respecting the first ten days of Moharram. 
They believe that " ginn" (or genii) visit some people by night 
during this period, and say that on this occasion a ginnee ap- 
pears, sometimes in the form of a sakka (or water-carrier), and 
sometimes in that of a mule. In the former case, the mysterious 
visitor is called " sakka el-'ashr" (or the water-carrier of the 
'ashr); in the latter, "baghlet el-'ashr" (the mule of the 'ashr). 
When the ginnee, they say, comes in the form of a sakka, he 
knocks at the chamber-door of a person sleeping ; who asks, " Wlio 
is there % " The ginnee answ:ers, " I, the, sakka ; where shall I 
empty [the skin] % " The person within, as sakkas do not come at 
night, knows who his visitor is, and says, " Empty into the water- 
jar;" and going out afterwards, finds the jar full of gold. — The 
ginnee in the form of a mule is described in a more remarkable 
manner. He bears a pair of saddle-bags filled with gold, a dead 
man's head is placed upon his back, and round his neck is hung a 
string of little round bells, which he shakes at the door of the 

(440) 28 


chamber of the person whom he comes to enrich. This person 
comes out, takes off the dead man's head, empties the saddle-bags 
of their valuable contents, then fills them with straw or bran or 
anything else, replaces them, and says to the mule, " Go, O 
blessed 1 " Such are the modes in which the good genii pay 
their zekah. During the first ten days of Moharram many an 
ignorant woman ejaculates this petition : " O my Lord, send me 
the water-carrier of the 'ashr ! " or, " Send me the mule of the 
'ashr ! " The men in general laugh at these superstitions. 

Some of the people of Cairo say that a party of genii, in the 
forms and garbs of ordinary mortals, used to hold a midnight 
" sook" (or market), during the first ten days of iNIoharram, in 
a street called Es-Saleebeh, in the southern part of the metropolis, 
before an ancient sarcophagus which was called " el-H6d el-Mar- 
sood" (or the Enchanted Trough). This sarcophagus was in a 
recess under a flight of steps leading up to the door of a mosque 
adjacent to the old palace called Kal'at cl-Kebsh ; it was removed 
by the French during their occupation of Egypt, and is now in the 
British Museum. Since its removal the sook of the genii, it is 
said, has been discontinued. Very few persons, I am told, were 
aware of this custom of the genii. Whoever happened to pass 
through the street where they were assembled and bought any- 
thing of them, whether dates or other fruit, cakes, bread, etc., 
immediately after found his purchase converted into gold. 

The tenth day of Moharram is called " Yom 'A'shoora." It is 
held sacred on many accounts : because it is believed to bo the day 
on which the first meeting of Adam and Eve took place after they 
were cast out of paradise, and that on which Noah went out from 
the ark ; also because several other great events are said to have 
happened on this day, and because the ancient Arabs, before the 
time of the Prophet, observed it by fasting. But what, in the 
opinion of most modern Muslims, and especially the Persians, 
confers the greatest sanctity on the day of 'A'shoora, is the 
fact of its being that on which El-Hoseyn, the Prophet's grand- 
son, was slain, a martyr, at the battle of the plain of Karbal'a. 
Many Muslims fast on this day, and some also on the day pre- 

As I am now writing on the day of 'A'shoora, I shall mention 


the customs peculiar to it Avhich I have -nitnessed on the present 
occasion. I had to provide myself with a number of five-faddah 
pieces before I went out tliis day, for the alms of the 'ashr already 
mentioned. In the streets of the town I saw many young chil- 
dren, from about three to six or seven years of age, chiefly girls, 
walking about alone, or two or three together, or carried by 
women, and begging these alms. In the coui'se of the morning a 
small group of blind fakeers, one of whom bore a half-furled red 
flag, with the names of El Hoseyn and other worthies worked 
upon it in white, stopped in the street before my door and chanted 
a petition for an alms. One of them began, " O thou who hast 
alms to bestow on the blessed day of 'A'shoora ! " the others then 
continued in chorus, " A couple of grains of wheat ! A couple of 
grains of rice ! O Hasan ! O Hoseyn ! " The same words were 
repeated by them several times. As soon as they had received a 
small piece of money they passed on, and then perfoi-med the same 
chant before other houses, but only where appearances led them to 
expect a reward. Numerous groups of fakeers go about the town 
in different quarters during this day soliciting alms in the same 

On my paying a visit to a friend a little before noon, a disli, 
which it is the custom of the people of Cairo to prepare on the 
day of 'A'shoora, was set before me. It is called " hoboob," and 
is prepared with wheat steeped in water for two or three days, 
then freed from the husks, boiled, and sweetened over the Are 
with honey or treacle ; or it is composed of rice instead of wheat : 
generally nuts, almonds, raisins, etc., are added to it. In most 
houses this dish is prepared, or sweetmeats of various kinds are 
procured or made, in accordance with one of the traditions of tlie 
Prophet, which is, " Whoso giveth plenty to his household on the 
day of 'A'shoora, God will bestow plenty upon him throughout the 
remainder of the year." 

After the call to noon-prayers, I went to the Mosque of the 
Hasaneyn, which, being the reputed burial-place of the head of 
the martyr El-Hoseyn, is the scene of the most remarkable of the 
ceremonies that in Cairo distinguish the day of 'A'shoora. The 
avenues to this mosque, near the Kadee's court, were thronged 
with passenger.s, and in them I saw .several groups of dancing-girls 


(Ghazeeyelis), some dancing and others sitting in a ring in the 
public thoroughfare, eating their dinner, and (with the exclama- 
tion of " Bi-smi-llah ! ") inviting each well-dressed man who passed 
l)y to eat with them. One of them struggled hard with me to 
prevent my passing without giving them a present. The sight of 
these unveiled girls, some of them very handsome, and with their 
dress alluringly disposed to display to advantage their fine forms, 
was but ill calculated to prepare men who passed by them for 
witnessing religious ceremonies ; but so it is that on the occasions 
of all the great religious festivals in Cairo, and at many other 
towns in Egypt, these female warrers against modesty (not always 
seductive, I must confess) are sure to be seen. On my way to 
the mosque, I had occasion to rid myself of some of the small coins 
which I had provided to give them to children. My next occasion 
for disbursing was on arriving before the mosque, when several 
water-carriers, of the class who supply passengers in the streets, 
suiTOunded me ; I gave two of them twenty faddahs, for which 
each of them was to distribute the contents of the earthen vessel 
which he bore on his back to poor passengers, for the sake of " our 
lord El-Hoseyn." 

On entering the mosque, 1 was much surjjrised at the scene 
Avhich presented itself in the great hall or portico. This, which is 
the principal part of the mosque, was crowded with visitors, mostly 
women of the middle and lower orders, with many children ; and 
there was a confusion of noises like what may be heard in a large 
schoolroom where several hundred boys are engaged in play : there 
were children bawling and crying, men and women calling to each 
other, and amid all this bustle mothers and children were impor- 
tuning every man of respectable apjiearance for the alms of the 
'ashr. Seldom have I witnessed a scene more unlike that which 
the interior of a mosque generally presents ; and in this instance 
I was the more surprised, as the Game' el-Hasaneyn is the most 
sacred of all the mosques in Cairo. The mats which are usually 
spread upon the pavement had been removed ; some pieces of old 
matting were put in their stead, leaving many parts of the floor 
uncovered ; and these and every part were covered with dust and 
dirt brought in by the feet of many shoeless persons : for on this 
occasion, as it is impossible to perform the ordinary prayers in the 


mosque, people enter without having perfovmed the usual ablu- 
tion, and without repairing tirst to the tank to do this ; though 
every person takes off his or her shoes, as at other times, on enter- 
ing the mosque, many leaving them, as I did mine, with a door- 
keeper. Several parts of the floor were wetted (by children too 
young to be conscious of the sanctity of the place), and though I 
avoided these parts, I had not been many minutes in the mosque 
before my feet were almost black with the dirt upon which I had 
trodden, and with that from other persons' feet which had trodden 
upon mine. The heat, too, was very oppressive, like that of a 
vapour-bath, but more heavy, though there is a very large square 
aperture in the roof, Avith a malkaf of equal width over it, to intro- 
duce the northern breezes. The pulpit-stairs and the gallery of 
the muballigheen were crowded with women, and in the assem- 
blage below the women were far more numerous than the men. 
Why this should be the case I know not, unless it be because the 
women are more superstitious, and have a greater respect for the 
day of 'A'shoora and a greater desire to honour El-Hoseyn by 
visiting his shrine on this day. 

It is commonly said by the people of Cairo that no man goes 
to the mosque of the Hasaneyn on the day of 'A'slioora but for the 
sake of the women — that is, to be jostled among them ; and this 
jostling he may indeed enjoy to the utmost of his desire, as I ex- 
perienced in pressing forward to witness the principal ceremonies 
which contribute with the sanctity of the day to attract such 
swarms of people. By the back wall, to the right of the pulpit, 
were seated in two rows, face to face, about fifty darweeshes of 
various orders. They had not yet begun their performances, or 
" ziki'S," in concert ; but one old darweesh, standing between the 
two rows, was performing a zikr alone, repeating the name of 
God (Allah), and bowing his head each time that he uttered the 
word, alternately to the right and left. In pushing forward to see 
them, I found myself in a situation rather odd in a country where 
it is deemed improper for a man even to touch a woman who is 
not his wife, or slave, or a near relation. I was so compressed in 
the midst of four women, that for some minutes I could not move 
in any direction; and pressed so hard against one young woman, 
face to face, that but for her veil our cheeks had been almost in 


contact : from her panting, it seemed that the situation was not 
quite easy to her, though a smile, expressed at the same time by 
her large black eyes, showed that it was amusing. She could not, 
however, bear it long, for she soon cried out, " My eye ! do not 
squeeze me so violently." Another woman called out to me, " O 
Elfendee ! by thy head, push on to the front and make way for 
me to follow thee." With considerable difficulty I attained the 
desired place, but in getting thitlier I had almost lost my sword 
and the hanging sleeves of my jacket ; some person's dress had 
caught the guard of the sword, and had nearly drawn the blade 
from the scabbard before I could get hold of the hilt. Like all 
ai'ound me, I was in a profuse perspiration. 

The darweeshes I found to be of different nations as well as of 
difTercnt orders. Some of them wore the ordinary turban and 
dress of Egypt ; others wore the Tux'kish ka-ook, or padded cap ; 
and others, again, wore high caps, or tartoors, mostly of the sugar- 
loaf shape. One of them had a white cap of the form last men- 
tioned, upon which were worked, in black letters, invocations to 
the first four Khaleefehs, to El-Hasan and El-Hoseyn, and to 
other eminent saints, founders of different orders of darweeshes. 
Most of the darweeshes were Egyptians, but there were among 
them many Turks and Persians. I had not waited many minutes 
before they began their exercises. Several of them first drove 
back the surrounding crowd with sticks ; but as no stick was 
raised at me, I did not retire as far as I ought to have done, and 
before I was aware of what the darweeshes were about to do, forty 
of them, with extended arms and joined liands, had formed a large 
ring in which I found myself enclosed. For a moment I felt half 
inclined to remain where I was, and join in the zikr, bow, and 
repeat the name of God ; but another moment's reflection on the 
absurdity of the performance, and the risk of my being discovered 
to be no darweesh, decided me otherwise ; so, parting the hands of 
two of the darweeshes, I passed outside the ring. The darweeshes 
who formed the large ring (which enclosed four of the marble 
columns of the portico) now commenced their zikr, exclaiming over 
and over again, " Allali ! "' and at each exclamation bowing the 
head and body, and taking a step to the right, so that the whole 
ring moved rapidly round. As soon as they commenced this exer- 


cise, another darweesh, a Turk, of the order of INIowlawees, in the 
middle of the circle, began to whirl, using both his feet to effect 
the motion, and extending his arms ; the motion increased in 
Telocity until his dress spread out like an umbrella. He con- 
tinued whirling thus for about ten minutes, after which he bowed 
to his superior, who stood within the great ring, and then, without 
showing any signs of fatigue or giddiness, joined the darweeshes 
in the great ring, who had now begun to ejaculate the name of 
God with greater vehemence, and to jump to the right instead of 
stepping. After the whirling, six other darweeshes, within the great 
ring, formed another ring, but a very small one, each placing his 
arms upon the shoulders of those next him, and thus disposed, 
they performed a revolution similar to that of the larger ring, 
excepting in being much more rapid, repeating also the same 
exclamation of " Allah ! " but with a rapidity proportionably 
greater. This motion they maintained for about the same length 
of time that the whirling of the single darweesh before had occu- 
pied, after which the whole party sat down to rest. They rose 
again, after the lapse of about a quarter of an hour, and performed 
the same exercise a second time. I saw nothing more in the great 
portico that was worthy of remark, excepting two fakeers (who, 
a bystander told me, were "megazeeb," or idiots) dancing, and 
repeating the name of God, and each beating a tambourine. 

I was desirous of visiting the shrine of El-Hoseyn on this 
anniversary of his death, and of seeing if any j^articular ceremonies 
were performed there on this occasion. With difficulty I pushed 
through the crowd in the great portico to the door of the saloon of 
the tomb, but there I found comparatively few persons collected. 
On my entering, one of the servants of the mosque conducted 
me to an unoccupied corner of the bronze screen which surrounds 
the monument over the place where the martyr's head is said 
to be buried, that I might there recite the Fat'hah. This duty 
performed, he dictated to me the following prayer, pausing after 
every two or three words for me to repeat them, which I affected 
to do ; and another person, who stood on ray left, saying " A'meen" 
(or Amen) at the close of each pause : — " O God, accept my visit, 
and perform my want, and cause me to attain my wish; for I come 
with desire and intent, and urge thee by the seyyideh Zeyneb, 


and the Imam Esh-Shafe'ee, and the Sultan Aboo-So'ood." After 
this followed similar words in Turkish, which were added in the 
supposition that I was a Turk, and perhaps did not understand 
the former words in Arabic. This short supplication has been 
often dictated to me at the tombs of saints in Cairo on festival 
days. On the occasion above described, before I proceeded to 
make the usual circuit round the screen which encloses the monu- 
ment, I gave to the person who dictated the prayer a small piece 
of money, and he in return presented me with four little balls of 
bread, each about the size of a hazel-nut. This Avas consecrated 
bread, made of very fine flour at the tomb of the seyyid Ahmad 
El-Bedawee, and brought hither, as it is to several saints' tombs 
in Cairo on occasions of general visiting, to be given to the more 
respectable of the visitors. It is called " 'Eysh es-seyyid El-Beda- 
wee." Many persons in Egypt keep a little piece of it (that is, 
one of the little balls into which it is formed) constantly in the 
pocket as a charm ; others eat it as a valuable remedy against any 
disorder, or as a preventive of disease. 

Generally, towards the end of " Safar" (the second month), the 
caravan of Egyptian pilgrims returning from Mekkeh arrives at 
Cairo; hence this month is vulgarly called " ISTezlet el-Hagg" (the 
Alighting of the Pilgrims). Many pilgrims coming by the Red 
Sea arrive before the caravan. A caravan of merchant-pilgrims 
arrives later than the main body of pilgrims. 

An officer called " Shaweesh el-Hagg " arrives about four or 
five days before the caravan, having pushed on, with two Arabs 
mounted on fleet dromedaries, to announce the approach of the 
Hagg and the expected day of their arrival at the metropolis, and 
to bring letters from pilgrims to their friends. He and his two 
companions exclaim, as they pass along, to the passengers in the 
way, " Blessing on the Prophet ! " or, " Bless the Prophet ! " and 
every Muslim who hears the exclamation responds, " O God, 
favour him ! " They proceed directly to the Citadel, to convey the 
news to the Basha or his representative. The Shaweesh divides 
his letters into packets, with the exception of those which are to 
great or wealthy people, and sells them at so many dollars a 
packet to a number of persons who deliver them, and receive 
presents from those to whom they are addressed ; but sometimes 


lose by tlieir bargains. The Shaweesb himself delivers those to 
the great and rich, and obtains from them handsome presents of 
money, or a shawl, etc. 

Some persons go out two or three days' journey to meet their 
friends returning from pilgrimage, taking with them fresh provi- 
sions, fruits, etc., and clothes for the wearied pilgrims. The 
poorer classes seldom go further than the Birket el-Hagg (or Lake 
of the Pilgrims), about eleven miles from the metropolis, and the 
place where the caravan passes the last night but one before its 
entry into the metropolis ; or such persons merely go to the last 
halting-place. These usually take with them some little luxury in 
the way of food, and an ass, as an agreeable substitute to the 
pilgrim for his jaded and uneasy camel,30 together with some clean, 
if not new, clothes ; and many go out with musicians to pay hon- 
our to their friends. It is very affecting to see at the approach of 
the caravan the numerous parties who go out with drums and 
pipes to welcome and escort to the city their friends arrived from 
the holy places, and how many, who went forth in hope, return 
with lamentation instead of music and rejoicing ; for the arduous 
journey through the desert is fatal to a great number of those 
pilgrims who cannot afford themselves necessary conveniences. 
Many of the women who go forth to meet their husbands or sons 
receive the melancholy tidings of their having fallen victims to 
privation and fatigue. The piercing shrieks with which they rend 
the air, as they retrace their steps to the city, are often heaixl pre- 
dominant over the noise of the drum and the shrill notes of the 
hautboy which proclaim the joy of others. The pilgrims on their 
return are often accosted by passengers, with the petition, " Pray 
for pardon for me," and utter this short ejaculation, " God pardon 
thee ! " or " O God, pardon him ! " This custom owes its origin 
to a saying of the Prophet, " God pardoneth the pilgrim, and him 
for whom the pilgrim implores pardon." 

I write the following account of the Kezlet el-Hagg, just after 
witnessing it, in the year of the Flight 1250 (1834 a.d.) :— The 
caravan arrived at its last halting-place, the Hasweh, a pebbly 
tract of the desert, near the northern suluirl) of Cairo, last niglit, 
on the eve of the 4th of Eabeea el-Owwal. A few pilgrims left the 
caravan after sunset, and entered the metropolis. The caravan 


entered this morning, the 4th of the month. I was outside the 
walls, soon after sunrise, before it drew near ; but I met two or 
three impatient pilgrims riding upon asses, and preceded by 
musicians or by flag-bearers, and followed by women singing ; and 
I also met several groups of women who had already been out to 
make inquiries respecting relations whom they expected, and were 
returning with shrieks and sobs. Tlieir lamentation seemed more 
natural and more deeply felt than that which is made at funerals. 
This year, in addition to a great many deaths, thei^e were to be 
lamented a thousand men who had been seized for the army, so 
that perhaps there was rather more wailing than is usual. About 
two hours and a half after sunrise the caravan began to draw near 
to the gates of the metropolis, parted in three lines — one line 
towards the gate called Bab en-Kasr, another directly towards the 
Bab el-Futooh, and the third, branching off from the second, to the 
Bab el-'Adawee. The caravan this year was more numerous than 
usual (though many pilgrims went by sea), and in consequence of 
the seizure of so many men for the army, it comprised an uncom- 
mon proportion of women. Each of the three lines into which it 
divided to enter the metropolis, as above mentioned, consisted, for 
the most part, of an uninterrupted train of camels, proceeding one 
bv one; but sometimes there were two abreast, and in a few places 
the train was broken for a short space. Many of the pilgrims had 
quitted their camels to take the more easy conveyance of asses, 
and rode beside their camels, many of them attended by musicians 
and some by flag-bearers. 

The most common kind of camel-litter used by the pilgrims is 
called a " musattah" or " heml musattah." It resembles a small 
square tent, and is chiefly composed of two long chests, each of 
which has a high back ; these are placed on the camel in the same 
manner as a pair of panniers, one on each side, and the high backs, 
which are placed outwards, together with a small pole resting on 
the camel's pack-saddle, support the covering which forms what 
may be called the tent. This conveyance accommodates two per- 
sons. It is generally open at the front, and may also be opened 
at the back. Though it a2:)pears comfortable, the motion is uneasy, 
especially when it is placed upon a camel tliat has been accustomed 
to can-y heavy burdens, and consequently has a swinging walk \ 


but camels of easy pace are generally chosen for bearing the 
musattah and other kinds of litters. There is one kind of litter, 
called a " shibreeyeh," composed of a small square platform with 
an arched covering. This accommodates but one person, and is 
placed on the back of the camel ; two sahharahs (or square chests), 
one on each side of the camel, generally form a secure foundation 
for the shibreeyeh. The most comfortable kind of litter is that 
called a " takht'ra-wan," which is most commonly borne by two 
camels, one before and the other behind ; the head of the latter is 
painfully bent down under the vehicle. This litter is sometimes 
borne by four mules, in which case its motion is more easy. Two 
light persons may travel in it. In genei'al, it has a small project- 
ing meshrebeeyeh of wooden lattice-work at the front and back, in 
which one or more of the porous earthen water-bottles so much 
used in Egypt may be placed. 

I went on to the place where the caravan had passed the last 
night. During my ride from the suburb to this spot, which occu- 
pied a little more than half-an-hour (proceeding at a slow pace), 
about half the caravan passed me, and in half-an-hour more almost 
the whole had left the place of encampment. I was much inter- 
ested at seeing the meetings of wives, brothers, sisters, and chil- 
dren with the pilgrims ; but I was disgusted with one pilgrim. 
He was dressed in ragged clothes, and sitting on a little bit of old 
carpet, when his wife, or perhaps his sister, came out to him, per- 
spiring under the weight of a large bundle of clothes, and fervently 
kissed him right and left. He did not rise to meet her, and only 
made a few cold inquiries. — The Emeer el-Hagg (or chief of the 
caravan), with his officers, soldiers, etc., were encamped apart 
from the rest of the cai^avan. By his tent a tall spear was stuck 
in the ground, and by its side also stood the " Mahmal" or " Mah- 
mil" (of which I shall presently give a sketch and description), 
with its travelling cover of canvas, ornamented with a few in- 

Many of the pilgrims bring with them, as presents from "the 
holy territory," water of the sacred well of " Zemzem " (in china 
bottles, or tin or copper flasks), pieces of the "kisweh" (or cover- 
ing) of the Kaabeh (which is renewed at the season of the pil- 
grimage), dust from the Prophet's tomb (made into hard cakes). 


^'liban" (or frankincense), "leef" (or fibres of the palm tree, 
used in washing, as we employ a sj)onge), combs of aloes-wood, 
" sebhahs " (or rosaries) of the same or other materials, " niis- 
waks " (or sticks for cleaning the teeth, which are generally dipped 
in Zenizem water to render them more acceptable), " kohl " (or 
black powder for the eyes), shawls, etc., of the manufacture of the 
Hegaz, and various things from India. 

It is a common custom to ornament the entrance of a pilgrim's 
house a day, or two or three days, before his arrival : painting 
the door and colouring the alternate courses of stone on each side 
and above it with a deep dull red, and white ; or, if it be of brick, 
ornamenting it in a similar manner, with broad horizontal stripes 
of red and white. Often also trees, camels, etc., are painted in a 
very rude manner in green, black, red, and other colours. The 
pilgrim sometimes writes to order this to be done. On the even- 
ing after his arrival he entertains his friends with a feast, which 
is called "the feast of the Nezleh." Numerous guests come to 
welcome him, and to say, "Pray for jiardon for me." He gener- 
ally remains at home a week after his return, and on the seventh 
day gives to his friends another entertainment, which is called 
"the feast of the Subooa." This continues during the day and 
ensuing night, and a khatmeh or a zikr is usually performed in 
the evening. 

On the morning after that on which the main body of the 
pilgrims of the great caravan enter the metropolis another spec- 
tacle is witnessed. This is the return of the Mahmal, which is 
borne in procession from the Hasweh through the metrojiolis to 
the Citadel. This procession is not always arranged exactly in 
the same order. I shall describe it as I have this day witnessed 
it on the morning after the return of the pilgrims of which I liave 
just given an account. 

First, I must desci-ibe the Mahmal itself. It is a square 
skeleton-frame of wood with a pyramidal top, and has a covering 
of black brocade richly worked with inscrijjtions and ornamental 
embroidery in gold, in some parts upon a ground of green or red 
silk, and bordered with a fringe of silk, with tassels surmounted 
by silver balls. Its covering is not always made after the same 
pattern with regard to the decorations ; but in every cover that 


I have seen I have remarked on the up[)er part of the front a 
view of the Temple of Mekkeh worked in gold, and over it the 
Sultan's cipher. It contains nothing, but has two mus-hafs (or 
copies of the Kur-an), one on a scroll and the other in the usual 


form of a little book, and each enclosed in a case of gilt silver 
attached externally at the top. The sketch which I insert will 
explain this description. The five balls with crescents which 
ornament the Mahmal are of gilt silver. The Mahmal is borne 


by a fine tall camel, which is generally indulged with exemption 
from every kind of labour during the remainder of its life. 

It is related that the Sultan Ez-Zahir Beybars, King of Egypt, 
was the first who sent a Mahmal with the caravan of pilgrims to 
Mekkeh in the year of the Flight 670 (1272 a.d.) or 675; but 
this custom, it is generally said, had its origin a few years before 
his accession to the throne. Sheger-ed-Durr (commonly called 
Shegeret-ed-Durr), a beautiful Turkish female slave who became 
the favourite wife of the Sultan Es-Saleh Negm-ed-Deen, and on 
the death of his son (with whom terminated the dynasty of tlie 
house of Eiyoob) caused herself to be acknowledged as Queen of 
Egypt, performed the pilgrimage in a magnificent "hodag" (or 
covered litter) borne by a camel, and for several successive years 
her empty hodag was sent with the caravan merely for the sake 
of state. Hence succeeding princes of Egypt sent with each year's 
caravan of pilgrims a kind of hodag (which received the name of 
" Mahmal " or " Mahmil "), as an emblem of royalty, and the kings 
of other countries followed their example. The Wahhabees pro- 
hibited the Mahmal as an object of vain pomp ; it afforded them 
one reason for intercepting the caravan. 

The procession of the return of the Mahmal in the year above 
mentioned entered the city by the Bab en-Nasr about an hour 
after sunrise. It was headed by a large body of Nizam (or 
regular) infantry. Next came the Mahmal, which was followed, 
as usual, by a singular character. This was a long-haired, brawny, 
swarthy fellow called "Sheykh-el-Gemel" (or Sheykh of the Camel), 
almost entirely naked, having only a pair of old trousers. He was 
mounted on a camel, and was incessantly rolling his head. For 
many successive years this sheykh has followed the Mahmal, and 
accompanied the caravan to and from Mekkeh, and all assert 
that he rolls his head during the whole of the journey. He is 
supplied by the government with two camels and his travelling 
provisions. A few years ago there used also to follow the Mahmal 
to and from INtekkeh an old woman with her head uncovered, 
and only weai-ing a shirt. She was called " Umm-el-Kutat " (or 
the Mother of the Cats), having always five or six cats sitting 
about her on her camel. — Next to the sheykh of the camel in the 
procession which I have begun to describe followed a group of 


Turkish horsemen, and then about twenty camels with stuffed 
and ornamented saddles covered with cloth, mostly red and green. 
Each saddle was decorated with a number of small flags slanting 
forward from the fore part, and a small plume of ostrich feathers 
upon the top of a stick fixed upright upon the same part, and 
some had a large bell hung on each side. The ornaments on the 
covering were chiefly formed of the small shells called cowries. 
I think I perceived that these camels were slightly tinged with 
the red dye of the henna, as they are on other similar occasions. 
They were followed by a very numerous body of Bedawee horse- 
men, and with these the procession was closed. 

Having been misinformed as to the time of the entry of the 
Mahmal, on my arriving at the principal street of the city I found 
myself in the midst of the procession ; but the Mahmal had passed. 
Mounting a donkey that I had hired, I endeavoured to overtake 
it ; but it was very difiicult to make any progress, so without 
further loss of time I took advantage of some by-streets, and 
again joined the procession. I found, however, that I had made 
very little advancement. I therefore dismounted, and after 
walking and running and dodging between the legs of the Beda- 
wees' horses for about half-an-hour, at length caught a glimpse of 
the Mahmal, and by a great efibrt and much squeezing overtook 
it soon after, about a quarter of an hour before it entered the 
great open place called the Rumeyleh, before the Citadel. After 
touching it three times, and kissing my hand, I caught hold of 
the fringe, and walked by its side. The guardian of the sacred 
object, who walked behind it, looked very hard at me, and induced 
me to utter a pious ejaculation, which perhaps prevented his 
displacing me ; or possibly my dress influenced him, for he only 
allowed other persons to approach and touch it one by one, and 
then drove them back. I continued to walk by its side, holding 
the fringe, nearly to the entrance of the Ilumeyleh. On my 
telling a Muslim friend to-day that I had done this, he expressed 
gTeat astonishment, and said that he had never heard of any one 
having done so before ; and that the Prophet had certainly taken 
a love for me, or I could not have been allowed. He added that 
I had derived an inestimable blessing, and that it would be 
prudent in me not to tell any others of my Muslim friends of 


this fact, as it would make them envy me so great a privilege, 
and perhaps displease them. I cannot learn why the Mahnial 
is esteemed so sacred. Many persons showed an enthusiastic 
eagerness to touch it, and I heard a soldier exclaim as it passed 
him, " O my Lord ! Thou hast denied my performing the pilgrim- 
age." The streets through which it passed were densely crowded. 
The shops were closed, and the mastab'ahs occupied by spectators. 
It arrived at the Rumeyleh about an hour and a half after it had 
entered the metropolis. It crossed this large place to the entrance 
of the long open space called Kara Meydan ; next proceeded along 
the latter place, while about twelve of the guns of the Citadel fired 
a salute ; then returned to the Eumeyleh, and proceeded through 
it to the northern gate of the Citadel, called Bab el-Wezeer. 

A curious custom is allowed to be practised on the occasions 
of the processions of the Mahmal and Kisweh ; which latter, and 
a more pompous procession of the Mahmal on its departure for 
Mekkeh, will be hereafter described. Numbers of boys go about 
the streets of the meti'opolis in companies, each boy armed with 
a short piece of the thick end of a palm stick, called a " makra"ah," 
in which are made two or three splits extending from the larger 
end to about half the length, and any Christian or Jew whom 
they meet they accost with the demand of " Hat el-'adeh," or 
"Give the customary present." If he refuse the gift of five or 
ten faddahs, they fall to beating him with their makra"ahs. Last 
year a Frank was beaten by some boys in accordance with this 
custom, and sought refuge in a large wekaleh ; but some of the 
boys entered after him, and I'epeated the beating. He complained 
to the Basha, who caused a severe bastinading to be administered 
to the sheykh of the wekaleh for not having protected him. 

In the beginning of the month of " Rabeea el-Owwal " (the 
third month) preparations are commenced for celebrating the 
festival of the Birth of the Prophet, which is called " Moolid en- 
Nebee." The principal scene of this festival is the south-west 
quarter of the large open space called Birket el-Ezbekeeyeh, 
almost the whole of which during the season of the inundation 
becomes a lake. This is the case for several years together at the 
time of the festival of the Prophet, which is then celebrated on 
the margin of the lake ; but at present the dry bed of the lake 


is the chief scene of the festival. In the quarter above mentioned 
several large tents (called " see wans ") are pitched, mostly for 
darweeshes, who, every night while the festival lasts, assemble in 
them to perform zikrs. Among these is erected a mast (saree), 
firmly secured by ropes, and with a dozen or more lamps hung to 
it. Around it numerous darweeshes, generally about fifty or sixty, 
form a ring and repeat zikrs. Near the same spot is erected what 
is termed a " kaim," which consists of four masts erected in a line 
a few yards apart, with numerous ropes stretching from one to the 
other and to the ground. Upon these ropes are hung many lamps, 
sometimes in the form of flowers, lions, etc. ; sometimes of words, 
such as the names of God and Mohammad, the profession of the 
faith, etc. ; and sometimes arranged in a merely fanciful ornamental 
manner. The preparations for the festival are generally com- 
pleted on the second day of the month, and on the following day 
the rejoicings and ceremonies begin. These continue day and 
night until the twelfth night of the month — that is, according to 
the Mohammadan mode of reckoning, the night preceding the 
twelfth day of the month — which night is that of the Moolid, 
properly speaking. During this period of nine days and nights, 
numbers of the inhabitants of the metropolis flock to the Ezbe- 
keeyeli. — I write these notes during the Moolid, and shall describe 
the festival of this year (the year of the Flight 1250 — 1834 a.d.), 
mentioning some particulars in which it diifers from those of 
former years. 

During the daytime the people assembled at the principal 
scene of the festival are amused by Sha'ers (or reciters of the 
romance of Aboo-Zeyd), conjurers, buffoons, etc. The Ghawazee 
have lately been compelled to vow repentance, and to 
their profession of dancing, etc. ; consequently there are now none 
of them at the festival. These girls used to be among the most 
attractive of all the performers. In some parts of the neighl)Our- 
ing streets a few swings and whirligigs are erected, and numerous 
stalls for the sale of sweetmeats, etc. Sometimes rope-dancers, 
who are gipsies, perform at this festival, but there are none this 
year. At night the streets above mentioned are lighted with 
many lamps, wliich are mostly hung in lanterns of wood. Num- 
bers of shops and stalls stocked with eatables, chiefly sweetmeats, 

(44<0 29 


ure opon during almost the whole of the night, and so also are 
the cofFee-shoi^s, at some of which, as well as in other places, 
Shfi'ers or Mohaddits amuse whoever chooses to stop and listen 
to their recitations. Every night, an hour or more after midniglit, 
processions of darweeshes pass througli this quarter. Instead of 
hearing flags, as they do in the day, they carry long staves with 
a number of lamps attached to them at the upper part, and called 
" menwars." The procession of a company of darweeshes, whether 
l>y day with flags or hy night with inenwars, is called the pro- 
cession of the " isharah " of the sect — that is, of the " banner ; " 
or rather the term " isharah " is applied to the procession itself. 
These darweeshes are mostly persons of the lower orders, and have 
no distinguishing dress. The greater number wear an ordinary 
tui'ban, and some of them merely a tarboosh, or a padded or felt 
cap ; and most of them wear the common blue linen or cotton or 
brown woollen shirt — the dress whicli they wear on other occa- 
sions, at their daily work or at their shops. 

On the last two nights the festival is more numerously attended 
than on the preceding nights, and the attractions are greater. I 
shall describe what I have just witnessed on the former of these 

This Ijeing the eleventh night of the lunar month, the moon 
was high, and enlivened the scenes of festivity. I passed on to 
a street called 8ook El-Bekree, on the south of the Birket el- 
Ezbekeeyeh, to witness what I was informed would be the best 
of the zikrs ^that were to be performed. The streets through 
which I passed were crowded, and persons were here allowed on 
this occasion to go about without lanterns. As is usually the 
case at night, there were scarcely any women among the pas- 
sengers. At the scene of the zikr in the .Sook El-Bekree, which 
was more crowded than any other place, was suspended a very 
large " negefeh " (a chandelier, or rather a number of chandeliers, 
chiefly of glass, one below another, placed in such a manner that 
they all app(^ared but one), containing aliout two or three hundred 
kandeels (or small glass lamps). Around this were many lanterns 
of wood, each having several kandeels hanging through the bottom. 
These lights were not hung merely in honour of the Prophet : 
they were near a "zawiyeh" (or small mosque) in which is buried 


the sheykh Darweesh El-'Ashniawee, and this niglit was liis 
Moolid. A zikr is performed here every Friday night (or what 
?/'e call Thursday night), but not with so much display as on th(^ 
present occasion. I observed many Clu'istian black turbans liere, 
and having seen scarcely any elsewhere this night, and heard the 
frequent cry of "A grain of salt in the eye of him who doth 
not bless the Prophet ! " ejaculated by the sellers of sweetmeats, 
etc., which seemed to show that Christians and Jews were at least 
in danger of being insulted at a time when the zeal of the Muslims 
was unusually excited, I asked the reason why so many Copts 
should be congregated at the scene of the zikr. I was ansAvered 
that a Copt who had become a Muslim voluntarily paid all the 
expenses of this Moolid of the sheykh Darweesh. This sheykh 
was very much revered. He was disordered in mind, or imitated 
the acts of a madman — often taking bread and other eatables and 
stamping upon them or throwing them into dirt, and doing many 
other things directly forbidden l)y his religion. Yet was he es- 
teemed an eminent saint ; for such acts, as I have remarked on 
a former occasion, are considered the results of the soul's being 
occupied in devotion. He died about eight years ago. 

The "zikkeers" (or the performers of the zikr), who were about 
thirty in number, sat cross-legged upon matting extended close 
to the houses on one side of the street, in the form of an ol>]ong 
ring. Within this ring, along the middle of the matting, were 
placed three very large wax-candles, each about four feet liigli, 
and stuck in a low candlestick. Most of the zikiseers were Ah- 
med'ee darweeshes, persons of the lower orders, and meanly 
dressed. Many of them wore green turbans. At one end of the 
ring were four " munshids " (or singers of poetry), and with them 
was a player on the kind of flute called " nay." I procured a 
small, seat of palm sticks from a coffee-shop close by, and by means 
of a little pushing and the assistance of my servant, obtained a 
place with the munshids, and sat there to hear a complete act or 
*' meglis " of the zikr, which T shall describe as completely as I 
can, to convey a notion of the kind of zikr most common and 
most approved in Cairo. Tt commenced at about three o'clock (or 
three hours after sunset), and continued two hom^s. 

The performers began by reciting the Fnt'hah all together, their 



sheykh (or chief) first exclaiming, " El-Fat'hah ! " They then 
chanted the following words: "O God, favour our lord Mohammad 
among the former generations ; and favour our loi-d Mohammad 
among the latter generations ; and favour our lord Mohammad in 
every time and period; and favour our lord Mohammad among the 
most exalted princes [the angels] unto the day of judgment ; and 
favour all the prophets and apostles among the inhabitants of the 
heavens and of the earth ; and may God (whose name be blessed 
and exalted !) be well pleased with our lords and our masters, 
those persons of illustrious estimation, Aboo-Bekr and 'Omar and 
'Osman and 'Alee, and Avith all the other favourites of God. God 
is our sufficiency, and excellent is the Guardian ! And there is 
no strength nor power but in God, the High, the Great ! O God ! 
O our Lord ! O thou liberal of pardon ! O thou most bountiful 
of the most bountiful! O God! Amen!" They were then 
silent for three or four minutes, and again recited the Fat'hah, 
but silently. This form of prefacing the zikr is commonly used 
by almost all orders of darweeshes in Egypt. 

After this ])i-eface the performers began the zikr. Sitting in 
tlie manner above described, thoy chantc^d, in slow measure, " La 
ilaha illa-llah" ("There is no deity but God") to the following air — 

bowing the head and body twice in each repetition of " La ilaha 
illa-llah." Thus they continued about a quarter of an hour, and 
then for about the same space of time they repeated the same 
words to the same air, but in a quicker measure, and with corre- 
spondingly quicker motions. In the meantime the munshids fre- 
quently .sang to the same or a variation of the same air portions 


of a haseedeh or of a muweshshah, an ode of a similar nature to 
the Song of Solomon, generally alliuling to the Propliet as the 
object of love and praise. 

I shall here give a translation of one of these niuweshshahs, 
which are very numerous, as a specimen of their style, from a book 
containing a number of these poems which I have puixihased during 
the present Moolid from a darweesh who presides at many zikrs. 
He pointed out the following poem as one of those most common 
at zikrs, and as one which was sung at the zikr which I have 
begun to describe. I translate it verse for vei-se, and imitate the 
measure and system of rhyme of the original, with this ditference 
only, that the first, third, aiul fifth lines of each stanza rhyme 
with each other in the original, but not in my translation. 

" Witli love my heart is troubled, 

Aiid mine eyelid hiiKrretli sleep ; 
My vitals are dissevered. 

While with streaming tears I weep. 
My union seems far distant ; 

Will my love e'er meet mine eye ? 
Alas ! did not estrangement 

Draw my tears, I would not sigh. 

" By dreary nights I'm wasted ; 
Absence makes my liope exi^ire ; 
My tears like pearls are dropping. 
And my heart is wrapped in fire. 
_ Whose is like my condition 'i 

Scarcely know I remedy. 
Alas ! did not estrangement 
Draw my tears, I would not sigh. 

" O turtle-dove ! acquamt me 

Wherefore thus dost thou lament? 
Art thou so stung by absence? 

Of thy wings deprived and pent ? 
He saith, ' Our griefs are equal ; 

Worn away with love I lie.' 
Alas ! did not estrangement 

Draw my tears, I would not sigh 

" O First, and sole Eternal ! 

Show thy favour yet to me ; 
Thy slave, Ahmad El-Eekree, 

Hath no Lord excepting thee. 
By T:i-H;i, the Great Prophet, 

Do thou not his wish deny. 
Alas ! did not estrangement 

Draw my tears, I would not sigh," 


I must translate a few more lines to show more strongly the 
similarity of these songs to that of Solomon ; and lest it should be 
thought that I have varied the expressions, I shall not attempt 
to render them into verse. In the same collection of poems sung 
at zikrs is one which begins with these lines : — 

" O gazelle from among the gazelles of El- Yemen ! 
I am thy slave-without cost. 
O thou small of age and fresh of skin ! 

thou who art scarce past the time of drinking milk ! "' 

In the first of these verses we have a comparison exactly agreeing 
with that in the concluding verse of Solomon's Song ; for the 
word which in our Bible is translated a "roe" is used in Arabic 
as synonymous with "ghazal" (or a gazelle), and the mountains 
of El-Yemen are " the mountains of spices." This poem ends 
with the following lines : — ■ 

" The phantom of thy form visited me in my slumber. 

1 said, ' O i)hantom of slumber, who sent thee? ' 
He said, ' He sent me whom thou knowest — 
He whose love occupies thee.' 

The belovetl of my heart visited me in the darkness of night. 

I stood, to show him honour, until he sat down. 

I said, ' O thou iny petition, and all my desire, 

Hast thou come at midnight, and not feared the watchmen ? ' 

He said to me, ' I feared ; but, however, love 

Had taken from me my soul and my breath.'" 

Compare the abo\e with the second and five following verses of 
the fifth chapter of Solomon's Song. Finding that songs of this 
description are extremely numerous, and almost the only poems 
sung at zikrs ; that they are composed for this purpose, and in- 
tended only to have a spiritual sense (though certainly not under- 
stood in such a sense by the generality of the vulgar), I cannot 
entertain any doubt as to the design of Solomon's Song. The 
specimens which I have just given of the religious love-songs of 
the Muslims have not been selected in preference to others as 
most agreeing with that of Solomon, but as being in frequent use, 
and the former of the two as having been sung at the zikr which 
I have begun to describe. I must now resume the description of 
that zikr. 

At frequent intervals ("as is customary in other zikrs) one of 


the luunshids saiig out the word " Meded," accenting each syllable. 
" Meded " signifies, when thus used, spiritual or supernatural aid, 
and implies an invocation for such aid. 

Tlie zikkeers, after having performed as aljove described, next 
repeated the same words to a difterent air for about the same 
length of time, tirst very slowly, then quickly. The air was as 
follows : — i- 







LcC i - la - ha il - la-1 - hi 


Lit i - la - ha il - la-1 - 




ha il 

la-1 - lab 

Then they I'epeated these words again to the following air in the 
same manner : — 



La i - la 

ha il - la-1 - l;Ui. 


ha il - la-1 - lali. 

They next rose, and, standing in the same order in which they 
had been sitting, repeated the same words to another air. During 
this stage of their performance, they were joined by a tall, well- 
dressed black slave, whose appearance induced me to inquire who 
he was. I was informed that he was a eunuch, belonging to the 
Basha. The zikkeers, still standing, next repeated the same woi'ds 
in a very deep and hoarse tone, laying the principal emphasis 
upon the word " La " and the first syllable of the last word 
("Allah"), and uttei'ing apimrently witli a considerable effort: 
the sound much resembled tliat which is produced by beating the 
rim of a tambourine. Each zikkeer turned his head alternately to 
the right and left at each repetition of "La ilaha illa-llah." The 
eunuch above mentioned, during this part of the zikr, became what 
is termed " melboos," or possessed. Throwing his arms about, and 



looking up with a very wild expression of countenance, he exclaimed 
in a very high tone, and with great vehemence and rapidity : 
" Allah ! Allah ! Allah ! Allah ! Allah ! la la la la la la la la la la 
la la lah ! Ya 'ammee ! [O my uncle !] Ya 'ammee ! Ya 'ammee 
'Ashmawee ! Ya 'Ashmawee ! Ya 'Ashmawee ! Ya 'Ashmawee ! " 
His voice gradually became faint ; and when he had uttered these 
words, though he was held by a darweesh who was next him, he 
fell on the ground, foaming at the mouth, his eyes closed, his 
limbs convulsed, and his fingers clenched over his thumbs. It 
was an epileptic fit : no one could see it and believe it to be the 
effect of feigned emotions ; it was undoubtedly the result of a 
high state of religious excitement. Nobody seemed surprised at 
it ; for occurrences of this kind at zikrs are not uncommon. All 
the performers noAv appeared much excited, repeating their 
ejaculations with greater rapidity, violently turning their heads, 
and sinking the whole body at the same time ; some of them 
jumping. The eunuch became melboos again several times, and I 
generally remarked that his fits happened after one of the mun- 
shids had sung a line or two, and exerted himself more than 
usually to excite his hearers. The singing was, indeed, to my 
taste very pleasing. Towards the close of the zikr, a private 
soldier, who had joined throughout the whole performance, also 
seemed several times to be melboos, growling in a horrible 
manner, and violently shaking his head from side to side. The 
contrast presented by the vehement and distressing exertions of 
the performers at the close of the zikr, and their calm gravity 
and solemnity of manner at the commencement, was particularly 
striking. Money was collected during the performance for the 
munshids. The zikkeers receive no pay. 

An isharah passed during the meglis of the zikr above de- 
scribed. This zikr continues all night until the morning-call to 
prayer, the performers only resting between each meglis ; gener- 
ally taking cofiee, and some of them smoking. 

It was midnight before I turned from this place to the Birket 
El-Ezbekeeyeh. Here the moonlight and the lamps together 
produced a singular eflfect. Several of the lamps of the kaim, of 
the saree, and of the tents, had, however, become extinguished ; 
and many persons were lying asleep upon the bare ground, taking 


their night's rest. The zikr of the darweeshes round tlie saree 
bad terminated. I shall therefore describe this hereafter from 
my observation of it on the next night. After having witnessed 
several zikrs in the tents, 1 returned to my house to sleep. 

On the following day (that immediately preceding what is 
properly called the night of the Moolid) I went again to the 
Ezbekeeyeh, about an hour before noon; but there were not 
many persons collected there at that time, nor was there much to 
amuse them : I saw only two or three conjurers and buffoons and 
sha'ers, each of whom had collected a small ring of spectators and 
hearers. The concourse, however, gradually increased ; for a 
very remarkable spectacle was to be witnessed — a sight which 
every year, on this day, attracts a multitude of wondering be- 
holders. This is called the " Doseh," or Treading. I shall now 
describe it. 

The sheykh of the Saadeeyeh darweeshes (the seyyid Moham- 
mad El-Menzelawee), who is khateeb (or preacher) of the mosque 
of the Hasaneyn, after having, as they say, passed a part of the 
last night in solitude, repeating certain prayers and secret invoca- 
tions, and passages from the Kur-an, repaired this day (being 
Friday) to the mosque above mentioned, to perform his accus- 
tomed duty. The noon-prayers and preaching being concluded, 
he rode thence to the house of the Sheykh El-Bekree, who pre- 
sides over all the orders of darweeshes in Egypt. This house is 
on the southern side of the Birket El-Ezbekeeyeh, next to that 
which stands at the south-western angle. On his way fj-om the 
mosque, he was joined by immerous parties of Saadee darweeshes 
from different districts of the metropolis — the members from 
each district having a pair of flags. The sheykh is an old, gray- 
bearded man, of an intelligent and amiable countenance, and fair 
complexion. He wore this day a white benish, and a white 
ka-ook (or padded cap, covered with cloth), having a turban com- 
posed of muslin of a very deep olive colour, scarcely to be dis- 
tinguished from black, with a strip of white muslin bound obliquely 
across the front. The horse upon which he rode was one of 
moderate height and weight : my reason for mentioning this will 
pre.sently be seen. The sheykh entered the Birket El-Ezbekeeyeh 
preceded by a very numerous procession of the darweeshes, of 


whom ho is the chief. In the way through this place, the pi'o- 
cession stopped at a short distance before the house of the Sheykh 
El-Bekree. Here a considerable number of the darweeshes and 
others (I am sure that there were moi'e than sixty, but I could 
not count their number) laid themselves down upon the gi'ound, 
side by side, as close as possible to each other, having their backs 
upwards, their legs extended, and their arms placed together 


beneath their foreheads. They incessantly muttered the word 
Allah ! About twelve or more darweeshes, most without their 
shoes, tlien i*an over the backs of their prostrate companions, some 
beating " bazes," or little drums of a hemispherical form, held in 
the left hand, and exclaiming Allah ! and then the sheykh ap- 
proached. His horse hesitated for several minutes to tread u]>on 
the back of the first of the prostrate men; but being pulled, and 


urged on behind, he at length stepped upon him ; and then, with- 
out apparent fear, ambled, with a high pace, over them all, led 
by two jDersons, who ran o^'er the prostrate men, one sometimes 
treading on the feet, and the other on the heads. The s])ectators 
immediately raised a long cry of " Allah la la la la lah ! " Not 
one of the men thus trampled upon by the horse seemed to be 
hurt ; but each, the moment that the animal had passed over him, 
jumped up, and followed the sheykh. Each of them received two 
treads from the horse — one from one of his fore legs, and a second 
from a hind leg. It is said that these persons, as well as the 
sheykh, make use of certain words (that is, repeat prayers and 
invocations) on the day preceding this performance, to enable them 
to endure without injury the tread of the horse ; and that some 
not thus prepared, having ventured to lie down to be ridden over, 
have, on more than one occasion, been either killed or severely 
injured. The performance is considered as a miracle effected 
through supernatural power which has been granted to every suc- 
cessive sheykh of the Saadeeyeh. Some persons assert that the 
horse is unshod for the occasion, but I thought I could perceive 
that this was not the case. They say, also, that the animal is 
trained for the purpose ; but if so, this would only account for the 
least surprising of the circumstances — I mean, for the fact of the 
horse being made to tread on human beings ; an act from which, 
it is well known, that animal is very averse. The present sheykh 
of the Saadeeyeh refused for several years to perform the Doseh. 
By much entreaty, he was prevailed upon to empower another 
person to do it. This person, a blind man, did it successfully, but 
soon after died ; and the sheykh of the Saadeeyeh then yielded to 
the request -of his darweeshes, and has since always performed the 
Doseh himself. 

After the sheykh had accomplished this extraordinary perform- 
ance, without the slightest appearance of any untoward accident, 
he rode into the garden, and entered the house of the Sheykh 
El-Bekree, accompanied by only a few darweeshes. On my pre- 
senting myself at the door, a servant admitted me, and I joined 
the assembly withiia. The sheykh having dismounted, seated 
himself on a seggadeh spread upon the pavement against the end 
wall of a takhtab6sh (or wide recess) of the court of the house. 


He sat with bended back, and downcast countenance, and tears in 
liis eyes, muttering almost incessantly. I stood almost close to 
him. Eight other persons sat with him. The darweeshes who 
had entered with him, who were about twenty in number, stood 
in the form of a semicircle before him, upon some matting placed 
for them ; and around them were about fifty or sixty other 
persons. Six darweeshes, advancing towards him, about two 
yards from the semicircle, commenced a zikr, each of them ex- 
claiming at the same time, " Allahu hei ! " (" God is living ! "), and 
at each exclamation beating, with a kind of small and short 
leather strap, a " baz," which he held, by a boss at the bottom, in 
his left hand. This they did for only a few minutes. A black 
slave then became melboos, and rushed into the midst of the dar- 
weeshes, throwing liis arms about, and exclaiming, "Allah la la 
la la lah ! " A person held him, and he soon seemed to recover. 
The darweeshes all together, standing as first described, in the form 
of a semicircle, then performed a second zikr, each alternate 
zikkeer exclaiming, " Allahu hei ! " (" God is living ! ") ; and the 
others, " Ya hei !" ("O thou living !"); and all of them bowing at 
each exclamation, alternately to the right and left. This they 
continued for about ten minutes. Then, for about the same space 
of time, in the same manner, and with the same motions, they 
exclaimed, " Daim ! " ("Everlasting!") and "Ya Daim ! " (" O 
Everlasting ! "). I felt an irresistible impulse to try if I could 
do the same without being noticed as an intruder, and accord- 
ingly joined the semicircle, and united in the performance, in 
which I succeeded well enough not to atti'act observation; but 
I worked myself into a most uncomfortable heat. After the 
zikr just described, a person began to chant a portion of the 
Kur-an ; but the zikr was soon resumed, and continued for about 
a quarter of an hour. INIost of the darweeshes there present 
then kissed the hand of the sheykh, and he retired to an upper 

It used to be a custom of some of the Saadeeyeh, on this 
occasion, after the Doseh, to perform their celebrated feat of 
eating live serpents, before a select assembly, in the house of the 
Sheykh El-Bekree ; but their present sheykh has lately put a stoj^ 
to this practice in the metropolis, justly declaring it to be dis- 


gusting, and contrary to the religion, which includes serpents 
among the creatures that are unlit to be eaten. Serpents and 
scorpions ^yere not unfrequently eaten by Saadees during my 
former visit to tliis country. The former were deprived of their 
poisonous teeth, or rendered harmless by liaving their upper and 
lower lips bored, and tied together on each side with a silk string, 
to prevent their biting ; and sometimes those which were merely 
carried in processions had two silver rings put in place of the silk 
strings. Whenever a Saadee ate tlie Hesh of a live serpent, he 
was, or affected to be, excited to do so by a kind of frenzy. He 
pressed very liard with the end of his thumb upon the reptile's 
back, as he grasped it, at a point about two inches from the head, 
and all that he ate of it was the head and a part between it and 
the point where his thumb pressed, of which he made three or 
four mouthfuls ; the rest he threw away. Serpents, however, are 
not always handled with impunity even by Saadees. A few years 
ago, a darweesh of this sect, who was called " el-Feel " (or the 
Elephant), from his bulky and muscular form and great strength, 
and who was the most famous serpenl^eater of his time, and 
almost of any age, having a desire to rear a serpent of a very 
venonious kind which his boy Jiad brought him among otheis that 
lie had collected in the desert, put this rc^ptilc into a basket, and 
kept it for several days without food to weaken it ; he then put 
his hand into the basket to take it out for the purpose of extract- 
ing its teeth, but it immediately l)it his thumb. He called out 
for help. There were, however, none but women in the house, 
and they feared to come to him, so that many minutes elapsed 
before he could obtain assistance. His whole arm was then found 
to be swollen and black, and he died after a few hours. 

No other cei'emonies worthy of notice were performed on the 
day of the Doseh. The absence of the Ghawazee rendered the 
festival less merry than it used to be. 

In the ensuing night, that which is properly called the night 
of the Moolid, I went again to the principal scene of the festival. 
Here I witnessed a zikr performed by a ring of about sixty dar- 
weeshes round the saree. The moon was sufficient, without the 
lamps, to light up the scene. The darweeshes who formed the 
ring round the saree were of various orders ; but the zikr which 


thoy performed was of a kind usual only among the order of the 
Beiyoomeeyeh. In one act of this zikr the performers exclaimed, 
" Ya Allah ! " (" O God ! "), and at each exclamation fii^st bowed 
their heads, crossing their hands at the same time before their 
breasts, then raised their heads, and clapped their hands together 
before their faces. The interior of the ring was crowded Mith 
persons sitting on the ground. The zikkeers continued as above 
described about half-an-hour. Next they formed companies of 
five or six or more together, but still in the form of a large ring. 
The persons in these several companies held together, each (with 
the exception of the foremost in the group) placing his left arm 
l)ehind the Ijack of the one on his left side, and the hand upon 
the left shoulder of the latter, all facing the spectators outside the 
ring. They exclaimed "Allah!" in an excessively deep and 
lioarse voice ; and at each exclamation took a step, one time 
forwards, and the next time backwards, but each advancing a 
little to his left at every forward step, so that the whole ring 
revolved, though very slowly. Each of the zikkeers held out his 
right hand to salute the spectators outside the ring, most of whom, 
if near enough, grasped, and sometimes kissed, each extended 
hand as it came before them. Whenever a zikr is performed 
I'ound the saree, those in the tents cease. I witnessed one other 
zikr this night — a repetition of that of the preceding night in the 
Sook El-Bekree. There was nothing else to attract spectators or 
hearers, exce])ting the reciters of romances. The festival termi- 
nated at the morning-call to prayer ; and all the zikrs, except 
that in the 8ook El-Bekree, ceased about three hours after raid- 
night. In the course of the following day the kaim, sjiree, tents, 
etc., were removed. 


rF,T;ior)irAi. public festivals, etc. — (conttxitet)). 

It might seem unnecessary to continue a detailed account of the 
l)eriodical jiublic festivals and other anniversaries celebrated in 
^gypt, were it not that many of the customs witnessed on these 
occasions arc every year falling into disuse, niid liave never 


hitherto been fully and correctly described. Hoping that this 
apology will be accepted, I proceed. 

During a period of fifteen nights and fourteen days in the 
month of " Rabeea et-Tanee " (the fourth month), the mosque of 
the Hasaneyn is the scene of a festival called " Moolid El- 
Hasan eyn," celebrated in honour of the birth of El-Hoseyn, 
whose head, as I have before mentioned, is said to be there 
buried. This ]\[oolid is the most famous of all those celebrated 
in Cairo, excepting that of the Prophet. The grand day of the 
Moolid El-Hasaneyn is always a Tuesday ; and the niglit which 
is properly called that of the Moolid is the one immediately en- 
suing, which is termed that of Wednesday. This is geneiully 
about five or six weeks after the Moolid en-Nebee, and concludes 
the festival. This present year (I am writing at the time of the 
festival which I here describe, in the year of the Flight 12.50 — 
18.34 A.D.), the eve of the 21st of the month having been fixed 
upon as the night of the Moolid, the festival began on the eve of 
the 7th. On the two evenings preceding the eve of the 7th, the 
mosque was lighted with a few more lamps than is usual , and 
this is customary in other years ; but these two nights are not 
distinguished like those which follow. 

On each of the fifteen great nights before mentioned, the 
mosque is illuminated with a great number of lam2~>s, and many 
wax-candles, some of which latter are five or six feet higli, and 
very thick. This illumination is made, on the first night, by the 
nazir (or warden) of the mosque, from the funds of the mosque ; 
on the second night, by the governor of the metropolis (at present 
Habeeb Efendee) ; on the following nights, by the sheykhs of 
certain orders of darweeshes, by some of the higher ofticers of the 
mosque, and by wealthy individuals. On each of these nights, 
those shops at which eatables, sherbet, etc., are sold, as well as 
the coffee-shops, in the neighbourhood of the mosque, and even 
many of those in other quarters, remain open until near morning ; 
and the streets in the vicinity of the mosque are thronged with 
persons lounging about, or listening to musicians, singers, and 
reciters of romances. The mosque is also generally crowded. 
TTere we find, in one part of tlie great portico, a company of 
pfjsons sitting on the fioor in two rows, facing each other, and 


reading all together certain chapters of the Kur-an. This is called 
a "makra." Sometimes there are several groups thus emj^loyed. 
In another place we find a similar group reading from a book 
called " Delail el-Kheyrat," invocations of blessing on the Prophet. 
Again, in other places, we find a group of persons reciting par- 
ticular forms of prayer ; and another, or others, performing a 
zikr, or zikrs. Winding about among these groups (whose de- 
votional exercises are performed for the sake of El-Hoseyn), or 
sitting upon the matting, are those other visitors whom piety, or 
curiosity, or the love of amusement, brings to this venerated 
sanctuary. There is generally an assembly of darweeshes or 
others in the saloon of the tomb (which is covered by the great 
dome, and is hence called the " kubbeh ^) reciting forms of prayer, 
etc. ; and the visitors usually enter the saloon to perform the 
ceremonies of reciting the Fat'hah and compassing the shrine ; 
but the most frequented part is the great portico, where the zikrs 
and most of the other ceremonies arc performed. 

Every night during this festival we see Isharahs, or pro- 
cessions of darweeshes, of one or more sects, passing through the 
streets to the mosque of the Hasaneyn, preceded by two or more 
men with drums, and generally witli hautboys, and somcitimes 
with cyml)a]s also, accompanied by bearers of mesh'als, and usually 
having one or more lanterns. They collect their party on their 
way, at their resp